Friday, April 26, 2013

Scientists in China trace new bird flu strain H7N9 back to market chicken

Scientists in China say they have pinpointed a likely source of a new strain of avian influenza (bird flu) that's killed 23 people in the country so far: chicken sold in the markets of Zhejiang, China. In a study fast-tracked into online publication in the international medical journal the Lancent yesterday, 30 scientists from hospitals and universities around China took samples of the H7N9 virus strain from human patients and compared it to samples of viruses grown from chicken in a Zhejiang market and found that "viral isolate from the patient was closely similar to that from an epidemiologically linked market chicken." Yet the human version of the virus also seems to be a compilation of sorts: The scientists found that the H7 portion was similar to domestic ducks from Zhejiang, while the N9 portion more closely resembled viruses in wild birds in South Korea.

"We are quite certain they very closely related and that the poultry is really giving the virus to humans," said microbiology professor K.Y. Yuen of the University of Hong Kong, describing the study results in a podcast. (so not sure then!)