Bird flu has been more common than thought

American microbiologists found that the bird flu virus H5N1 infects people more and less fatal than those as indicated by statistics from the World Health Organization, said in an article published in the journal Science.

According to the World Health Organization, in recent years, medical institutions of the world have registered 600 cases of infection with avian influenza H5N1, more than half of which have been fatal. To date, the virus does not spread from person to person, but the "editing" of its genome can give him the "capacity". In this regard, the world's leading virologists announced a voluntary moratorium on research that aims to improve the ability of the H5N1 virus to infect mammals.

A team led by Peter Palese (Peter Palese) School of Medicine, Mount Sinai in New York (USA) concluded that the statistics do not reflect the real WHO prevalence and overestimate the risk of bird flu found traces of H5N1 antibodies in the blood of several dozen volunteers .

Palese and his colleagues obtained blood samples, which were collected by other scientists in the 19 projects for tracking the incidence of influenza by the method of the World Health Organization. In total, in the preparation of this work was attended by about 7,3 thousand volunteers. All participants in the monitoring did not suffer respiratory problems and were completely healthy at the time of testing.

To the surprise of scientists, about 1.2% of volunteers — 87 people — were carriers of antibodies to avian influenza. Double-check the data, except employees of poultry farms and other potentially infectious zones have not reduced the share ill with bird flu.

Then biologists tried to find antibodies in blood samples of 12 000 people who participated in 20 other studies that used non-standard techniques. And this time, they got the same 1-2% ill with bird flu.

Believe Palese and his colleagues, all point to a higher prevalence of avian influenza, compared with the official statistics of WHO. Apparently, H5N1 is not so dangerous to human health, as indicated by data from the World Health Organization.

"We propose to conduct further studies that will affect a larger group of volunteers, and will be conducted by a single method. This will allow better assessment of the number of people infected with the avian flu. This information is critical to calculate the real rate of fatalities, as hospital statistics do not can reliably reflect it, "- concludes the author.

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