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January 16, 2006

Some speculation on the Turkish virus

The virus found in Turkey is mostly related to the virus strain that caused an outbreak in migratory waterfowl at Qinghai Lake starting in Apr 2005. All of the virus isolates sequenced from that outbreak were shown to have the lysine mutation at position 627 in the PB2 gene, which has been associated with increased virulence in mice, and observed in all human influenza virus strains, including the 1918 H1N1 virus.

If the viruses circulating in Turkey have retained this mutation, this could explain the number of human cases observed there, especially if the H-gene has mutated in a form that allows recognition of the human variant of the sialic acid receptor.

The change in receptor specificity would as well allow the H5N1 virus to infect the same target cells as the seasonal human influenza viruses, increasing the risk of getting a novel reassortant with an enhanced pandemic potential.

That is Christine Monceyron Jonassen commenting on ProMedMail. The same link reports two new suspected cases in Turkey. Recombinomics has more.

Posted by dymaxion at January 16, 2006 04:36 PM

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