Archive for H3n2

The Bug Has Left the Barn

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Rob Wallace

Cary Grant His Girl Friday 2Hildy Johnson: [speaking to Walter on the phone] Did you hear that? That’s the story I just wrote. Yes, yes, I know we had a bargain. I just said I’d write it, I didn’t say I wouldn’t tear it up! It’s all in little pieces now, Walter, and I hope to do the same for you some day!
[hangs up emphatically]
Hildy Johnson: [to the other reporters] And that, my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game.
–Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, His Girl Friday (1940)

On Thursday the local paper here published two articles the editors could never connect in a million years, even if it had occurred to them to do so. Think trying to stick together two powerful magnets of the same polarity.

The first—big headline on the front page, “FLU OUTBREAK RIVALS DEADLY 2009 PANDEMIC”—described a record 123 Minnesota children testing positive for flu at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, higher than the highest week during the 2009 outbreak.

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A Dangerous Method

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2011 by Rob Wallace

There were cameras literally everywhere, in London. So far, he’s managed not to think about them. He remembered Bigend saying they were a symptom of autoimmune disease, the state’s protective mechanisms ‘roiding up into something actively destructive, chronic; watchful eyes, eroding the healthy function of that which they ostensibly protected. –William Gibson (2010)

This summer Ron Fouchier’s lab in the Netherlands conducted an experiment as frightening for its simplicity as for its results. The team produced a human-transmissible version of  highly pathogenic influenza A (H5N1) or bird flu.

Rather than by reverse genetics, wherein a complex round robin of mutations are introduced in an effort to produce a human-specific bird flu, an approach which failed most recently at CDC, the Fouchier group let the virus converge on a solution all on its own. HPAI H5N1 was intranasally inoculated into a group of lab ferrets (whose immune response mimics humans’). Only ten infection generations later the virus went “airborne”—transmitted by respiration—while remaining as deadly as its field cousins (with a 75% case fatality rate). A repeat of the experiment reproduced the result.

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