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The Seal flu "Potentially Dangerous Influenza"

Guest Lady Luck

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Guest Lady Luck

Deadly new flu strain kills 162 harbor seals in New England after jumping from waterfowl to mammals and scientists fear it could infect humans too


History of unknown influenza " Seal Flu infection"


The H3N8 strain was discovered after the death of 162 New England seals


The virus could target a protein found in human lungs causing immune system to go into overdrive and attack itself


This would leave lungs vulnerable to pneumonia and bacterial infections



The New and not So far away Seal Flu Discovery Article


It's a virus that originated in birds, but the newest strain of avian flu has killed 162 harbor seals in New England and scientists warn it could be even more dangerous if it jumps to humans.


Researchers revealed on Tuesday that the aquatic mammals, which washed up dead or dying on the shores of Maine and northern Massachusetts last fall, were infected with the H3N8 strain of influenza.


The seals suffered horrifying skin lesions, a previously unknown symptom in flu deaths, and pneumonia as a result of a virus that they contracted from North American waterfowl, according to researchers at Columbia University.


Even more worrying is the fact that the virus has mutated to develop the ability to infect the cells of mammals -- a first for the avian pathogen.



The announcement follows the reemergence of swine flu in the United States as four people at a county fair in Indiana had to be hospitalized after catching the virus from their hogs.


Scientists believe the virus entered the seals' bodies by infecting the small number of cells with avian receptors that the species carries.


Once inside, the pathogen mutated to infect cells with mammalian receptors -- making it much more potent and allowing for the possibility that the strain could infect humans.


'Whenever you get a virus that spills over from one species into another and causes disease that is a significant concern,' Dr Simon Anthony, a research fellow at Columbia University's Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research, told Mail Online.




One cause for concern was the fact that few scientists had considered the possibility of a bird flu virus infecting seals, said the researchers. It highlighted the fact that pandemic influenza can appear in unexpected ways.


'Flu could emerge from anywhere and our readiness has to be much better than we previously realised,' said Dr Moscona.


'We need to be very nimble in our ability to identify and understand the potential risks posed by new viruses emerging from unexpected sources.


'It's important to realise that viruses can emerge through routes that we haven't considered. We need to be alert to those risks and ready to act on them.'


As of January 2012, the World Health Organization has confirmed there have been 583 cases of H5N1 (avian flu) in humans leading to 344 deaths.



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Seal flu? Not even scared.


Why SHOULDN'T you be terrified?! I'll tell ya, where I was, it was truly terrifying. They had to close a few schools in NYC because one or two kids were diagnosed with Swine Flu, which is actually LESS dangerous than regular Flu strains.


Ask anyone who knows me, i'm still shaken from the Swine Flu epidemic. I've been swept away by Rip Tides, battled Menangitis, and i've skydived. But NOTHING has ever scared me as much as the Swine Flu pandemic did. I dunno if i'm ready for another one. D:



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