Sunday, April 1, 2012

UPDATE: H5 controversy

Don't know how many people can read this, but I will overview the highlights.

Fouchier inoculated 4 ferrets with a high dose of the mutated H5N1 intertracheally. These ferrets were able to transmit via aerosol to 3 of 4 contact ferrets.
He then took samples from one of the 3 infected aerosol contact ferrets and infected two more ferrets. The virus was then able to transmit to 2 of 2 ferrets via aerosol. In total that is 5/6 for aerosol transmission. 0 of 6 aerosol infected ferrets died. 6 of 6 directly inoculated ferrets died.

Recap: large amounts of virus to the lungs kills ferrets and allows the virus to spread via aerosol transmission. Ferrets that are infected via aerosol shed less virus and do not die. When the virus is directly inoculated it kills ferrets at a similar rate as the wild type H5N1. When ferrets are "naturally" infected via aerosol contact, infection is much less severe. "Doomsday virus"? Hardly NYT. Sensationalize your story that has no real information backing it up much? Much too much. Sadly this is what the American and international media has become.

So the "report by ABC News on 18 February that said aerosol transmission killed 'all 40 of the exposed animals' in neighboring cages" is pretty seriously wrong. Ron's work was pretty seriously misrepresented. He is now catching flak for misrepresenting data (even thought he didn't). What are the chances ABC News is ever held responsible for grossly misleading the public? Don't hold your breath.

Additionally they did follow up experiments that were not in the paper. They gave lower doses of the virus internasally. "Only one of eight ferrets infected with the mutant virus through nasal swabs developed severe disease, and none died."

"There are a lot of misperceptions about what you can and cannot conclude from these studies,” Fouchier said at a panel discussion on the topic.

“'This was overwhelmingly less about new data than making sure there was a clear understanding of the old data,' Fauci told Science" in regards to the recent discussion Fouchier had at the ASM.

“'The issue is you have a virus generated in laboratory that's now transmissible [in mammals],' says NSABB member Arturo Casadevall, a microbiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. 'This virus has the capacity to recombine, and we have no idea what will come out.'" So the prudent thing to do is lock the virus and the information up tight so virtually no work can be done on it? Very short sighted.

I am just glad Fauci seems to have come around.

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