Influenza Virus Mashup

Influenza Virus Mashup

[Crof's H5N1] H5N1 controversy: Dr. Racaniello on NPR

Posted by Automator On January - 8 - 2012

Via Dr. Vincent Racaniello's virology blog: Avian H5N1 influenza and biosecurity on Science Friday. Excerpt:

I’m a bit dismayed that Science Friday tweeted about this event earlier today saying “Today, 2-3p ET we’ll talk about the placebo effect. Then, we’ll tackle the debate over research into making influenza more deadly.” I had hoped for a less sensational, and scientifically accurate description from a well-respected science program. 

Making influenza virus more deadly is not what this research was about. The over-hyping of the entire H5N1 story (both by scientists and the press) is what has got us into this situation in the first place. On Science Friday I hope to focus on the science which does not support restricting publication of the H5N1 ferret results. 

Update: Here is a recording of this SciFri episode (27 MB mp3). 

I thought it was interesting that Dr. Henderson discounted the possibility that there is widespread H5N1 seropositivity in rural Asian populations. His reason was that, among all the H5N1 infections, no seropositivity has been observed in their contacts. This would be expected as the H5N1 viruses are known not to be transmitted among humans! Where we would expect to see wide seropositivity is among workers who have frequent contact with poultry, not in the contacts of those who have been infected with the virus.

And that seems to have been the case in Indonesia's first known case, a labourer who was never sick but who (for unknown reasons) was tested and found to be carrying H5N1 antibodies. The same was true for some South Korean poultry cullers a few years ago: They didn't fall ill but still had the antibodies.

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