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Global pandemic warning

Humans lack immunity against new bird flu virus

Published fredag 19 juli 2013 kl 09.10
"We need to watch this virus and prepare a vaccine."
(1:44 min)
Studies show that humans lack immunity to the new strain of bird flu. Photo: AP

A new type of bird flu discovered in China could spread around the world, Annika Linde of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, tells Swedish Radio.

"We are not there yet, but we need to prepare to deal with a new potential pandemic," said Linde.

A study in the latest issue of Science magazine suggests that the new strain of bird flu H7N9, which can spread through the air and can apparently be transmitted from human to human, could lead to a pandemic.

Other studies from the past week show that humans lack immunity against the virus and that the primary flu medication, Tamiflu, has a poor effect.

Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University, told Swedish Radio that the new outbreak of bird flu is potentially dangerous:

"Yes, I think that this is substantially more dangerous than swine flu, to which the population was partly immune. This is a totally new virus which our immune system does not recognize."

Sven Britton, a professor in infectious disease at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm told Swedish Radio that this completely new virus has been shown in experiments to be able to spread between ferrets, with researchers concluding that it could therefore also potentially spread between humans.

Though there is no evidence for this yet, Britton, added, there is some cause for concern.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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