via Science Times . Read the other side ofthe story . Via ScienceDaily ; “Researchers at the Belgian National Center for Scientific Research (CNES), in Brussels, and the Netherlands Institute for Geobiology in Rotterdam, tested three types of bird flu viruses, including the bird fluCORVOVAR19 that can be transferred among birds.
The virus did not infect any of the birds tested and had just the right amount of activity to allow it to infect other birds and humans and be passed on to humans, according to a summary of the work published today (August 6) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . “The experiment shows a large, but very small, effect size, which will not alter our understanding of the real and potential scale of the flu virus. This experiment shows that a more powerful, and safer way to spread the virus, is the transfer of the virus to people.” Scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Geobiology in Rotterdam created simulations of corvid contact with the experimental virus in addition to real bird flu virus in the hopes of testing the potential for virus spread into humans. Scientists found that even if the birds were completely at their best in the simulation, a direct contact with the experimental virus would result in a small, but statistically significant, increased risk of disease. The simulated virus that was able to spread into the birds was about 1/1,000th the size of real bird flu virus in the laboratory. With an “explosive” increase because of the virus being spread directly to birds, it is not clear how the virus could spread to humans, but the simulation suggests that it could. “We observed a high number of contacts between the experimental and simulated virus, which is quite large, but not comparable to the real virus,” said the scientists from the CNES-CEU and the Netherlands Institute for Geobiology, said.
“This experiment makes clear that people can be exposed to a virus simply by doing something it is forbidden-like touching a bug, but this is really just the beginning,” said Philippe Bouillon, a professor at CNES who led the research. “It is also interesting to note that the results are in accordance with a hypothesis that was tested in 2008, so this paper shows that the virus can do something as small as a direct contact to animals, which has been done already in the wild. It is also very exciting that we can say at the same time that the virus is indeed small, and can spread as easily as it did in the study.” “When you have a small virus, then how can you spread it? And if you can’t spread it, it’s like you are very far away from it,” notedJin Weiping, Director of CNES and head of CNES’s Viral Infection Research Division in Brussels. It is also important to note that the simulated virus is a mixture of virus strains that are not natural,and so it is not suitable for comparison withany known virus strains or natural human infections. “In the real world,human populations are not susceptible to these types of transmission,” said Bouillon. “Infections with a truly small virus, or with a novel virus, posemuch less health risks to people.”
“We don’t know yet if the infection with the experimental virus could spread further, but in the simulation, we clearly see that a direct contact with the experimental virus results in a very small but statistically significant increased risk of disease in wild populations of avian influenza, and this is a key feature for viral control and for human vaccination campaigns. In the lab, we can see how many people may be exposed to a virus that could cause many things other than the flu, but in the wild it is probably not a very significant risk. Our study shows a large but very small effect, which will not alter our understanding of the real and potential scale of the flu virus,” said Boullon.
The study is one of several on influenza virus from the field experiment. “Our research also showed that our method of infecting birds with real virus for transmission into humans, without infecting humans is possible and sustainable, and this is a basic model for virus-animal transmission in human populations,” said Bouillon. “We are very pleased with our study of avian influenza and with the new findings that support the concept of avian influenza. The experimental laboratory virus does not allow for this, and we will continue to explore whether a direct contact can result in an additional threat to humans,” Weiping added.