HEALTH Experts have called for closer study of less-lethal strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus because they might be more //likely candidates to spark an influenza pandemic.
Scientists have identified at least four major variants, or genotypes, of the deadly H5N1 virus since it made its first-known jump to humans in Hong Kong in 1997.
Topping the list is the Z-genotype, which has been found in northern China, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and killed more than half the people it was known to have infected.
Less well known is the V-genotype that turned up in South Korea and Japan in late 2003. This variant infected at least nine South Koreans who took part in poultry culling in late 2003 and early 2004 to stop outbreaks in the country. None of them suffered any serious symptoms, and all recovered.
Another poultry worker was infected after the disease showed up in poultry farms in South Korea in November but he, too, did not become seriously ill.
Scientists warned against dismissing these less virulent H5N1 strains since they bear more likeness to viruses that have killed millions of people in the past.
Julian Tang, microbiology associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said what made past pandemics deadly was not high mortality rates but the efficiency with which they spread among people. If massive populations were stuck down, even a low mortality rate would culminate in devastating death tolls.
"All previous influenza pandemics have shown a relatively low mortality (of less than three percent, including the 1918-19 pandemic).
The total number of people who died is large because a lot more were infected, but the majority - or over 97 percent - survived," Tang told Reuters.
The Spanish flu of 1918-19 killed about 50 million people worldwide, but the real number will never be known.
"This makePage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
. New Tools To Identify Flu Strains2
. Bird Flu Strains Detected In Wild Birds Of Mongolia3
. Whirlpool Bath Tubs Contain Potentially Lethal Bacterial Strains4
. Newly Identified Strains Of Chlamydia Trachomatis – A Gateway To New Disease5
. Misuse Of Anti-Microbial Drugs Have Given Rise To Multidrug-resistant TB Strains6
. A New Test to Detect Drug-resistant HIV Strains7
. Peptide Found in Human Blood Inhibits 60 Strains of HIV, Study Says8
. Pneumonia Strains Not Covered by Vaccines on the Rise9
. Virus Level could Predict Cervical Cancer Risk
. Ebola Virus - Outbreak Claims More Lives In Uganda.11
. Experimental treatment for Ebola Virus Shows promising results in mice