A new study says that the H7N9 bird flu virus does not yet have the ability to easily infect people. This new finding contradicts previous researches that suggest that H7N9 virus poses the threat of causing a global pandemic.
Earlier this year the virus killed several dozen people in China and analysis of virus samples from the outbreak shows that it is still adapted for infecting birds and not people. This has been found according to scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
Ian Wilson, a professor of structural biology and chair of the department of integrative structural and computational biology, said in a Scripps news release, “Luckily, H7N9 viruses just don't yet seem well adapted for binding to human receptors. Because publications to date have implied that H7N9 has adapted to human receptors, we felt we should make a clear statement about this.”
The viruses infect birds, thus causing only a few or no symptoms at all, and until this year there haven’t been any reports on the H7N9 strain in humans. This changed when In February dozens of people in two urban areas of eastern China had begun to come down with the viruses. After the end of the outbreak there were 132 human cases confirmed and 37 deaths.
"These results suggest that we should continue to observe H7N9 and see if it undergoes any changes that make it more likely to spread in the human population," Wilson said.
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