First molecular evidence links live poultry markets to human H5N1 infection in China

December 16, 2011

Sequences of H5N1 virus from live bird markets in China matched sequences from patients who had recently visited the live bird markets, according to a paper in the December 2011 Journal of Virology. Live poultry markets have long been suspected of providing the reservoir of H5N1 responsible for human cases, but this is the first molecular evidence linking H5N1 in humans to these markets, the authors say.

“We collected 69 environmental samples—basically swabs from ditches, cages, floors, water, and so on—from the live bird markets, which six individual patients visited before disease onset,” during the 2008-2009 flu season, says corresponding author Yuelong Shu. “Among these 69 samples, we isolated a total of 12 highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses from four of the six live bird markets.” In those cases, “the genetic sequence of the environmental and corresponding human isolates was similar [with a sequence identity of greater than 99 percent], demonstrating a solid link between human infection and live markets,” says Shu.

The investigators also analyzed 31 H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses isolated from the 38 human H5N1 cases identified in China during the past five years, revealing “diverse genotypes… that were consistent with those identified in poultry outbreaks or in live poultry markets,” according to the report.

The results of this investigation have important policy implications, says Shu. “Enhanced infection control measures are warranted in these markets, not only to reduce human H5N1 infection, but also to minimize the likelihood of coinfection with H5N1 and 2009 H1N1 viruses,” the researchers write. “The sporadic cases of human H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza infection, the outbreaks in birds, and the simultaneous circulation of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic raise concern that a deadly reassortment virus may emerge.”

Explore further: Annual childhood flu vaccines may interfere with development of crossresistance

More information: X.-F. Wan, et al. Indications that live poultry markets are a major source of human H5N1 influenza virus infection in China. J. Virol. 85:13432-13438

Related Stories

Annual childhood flu vaccines may interfere with development of crossresistance

November 17, 2011
Vaccinating children annually against influenza virus interferes with their development of cross-reactive killer T cells to flu viruses generally, according to a paper in the November Journal of Virology.

No sign Vietnam mutant bird flu greater threat: UN

September 5, 2011
A mutant strain of the deadly bird flu H5N1 virus detected in Vietnam does not appear to pose an increased risk to human health, the United Nations said on Monday.

Recommended for you

Co-infection with two common gut pathogens worsens malnutrition in mice

July 27, 2017
Two gut pathogens commonly found in malnourished children combine to worsen malnutrition and impair growth in laboratory mice, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Finish your antibiotics course? Maybe not, experts say

July 27, 2017
British disease experts on Thursday suggested doing away with the "incorrect" advice to always finish a course of antibiotics, saying the approach was fuelling the spread of drug resistance.

Phase 3 trial confirms superiority of tocilizumab to steroids for giant cell arteritis

July 26, 2017
A phase 3 clinical trial has confirmed that regular treatment with tocilizumab, an inhibitor of interleukin-6, successfully reduced both symptoms of and the need for high-dose steroid treatment for giant cell arteritis, the ...

A large-scale 'germ trap' solution for hospitals

July 26, 2017
When an infectious airborne illness strikes, some hospitals use negative pressure rooms to isolate and treat patients. These rooms use ventilation controls to keep germ-filled air contained rather than letting it circulate ...

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Male hepatitis B patients suffer worse liver ailments, regardless of lifestyle

July 25, 2017
Why men with hepatitis B remain more than twice as likely to develop severe liver disease than women remains a mystery, even after a study led by a recent Drexel University graduate took lifestyle choices and environments ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.