Bird Flu could spread between Humans in Future

The World so far has been lucky in not seeing a widely-spread pandemic caused by the deadly bird flu virus that can transmit in the air and between people. That is no way to ascertain that it won’t happen in the future, say scientists.

After studying the bird flu virus exhaustively for over 15 years, researchers say there are already certain strains, which with a few mutations could cause wide-spread damage in humans. The current H5N1 flu is transmitted between birds and humans or between only birds. The virus cannot transmit between two human beings. However, the cases where they were transmitted between birds to humans have been fatal.

Two earlier studies published along similar lines revealed that with as few as five mutations, the deadly H5N1 flu could spread between mammals, including human to human. The study was highly critiqued because various aspects of the viruses were tampered with to create new mutated strains.

There have been no indications until now, if these mutations were actually possible or if they could evolve, but Colin Russell, who studied the research with Derek Smith confirmed the possibility. “Viruses that have two of these mutations are already common in birds, meaning that there are viruses that might have to acquire only three additional mutations in a human to become airborne transmissible,” he said

 

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