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UW shows why avian flu hasn't spread among humans yet

Although more than 100 people have been infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus, mostly from close contact with infected poultry, the fact that the virus does not spread easily from its pioneering human hosts to other humans has been a biomedical puzzle.

Now, a study of cells in the human respiratory tract reveals a simple anatomical difference in the cells of the system that makes i......

Full article >>> , (cell) receptors for avian viruses, including avian H5N1 viruses, are present," explains Kawaoka, who also holds an appointment at the University of Tokyo. "But these receptors are rare in the upper portion of the respiratory system. For the viruses to be transmitted efficiently, they have to multiply in the upper portion of the respiratory system so that they can be transmitted by coughing and ......

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Viruses isolated from humans infected with avian flu can thus be monitored in a way to provide more advance warning of a potential pandemic.

"Identification of H5N1 viruses with the ability to recognize human receptors would bring us one step closer to a pandemic strain," says Kawaoka. "Recognition of human receptors can serve as molecular markers for the pandemic potential of the is......

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'"/> By Terry Devitt 03/22/06

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