Thursday, November 02, 2006
Study suggests some people may be more susceptible to bird flu then others
Scientists suspect some people have a “genetic disposition” for bird flu infection, which may explain why some get it and others don’t, and why it remains relatively rare, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
Evidence, mainly from a family cluster of cases last May in North Sumatra, Indonesia - when seven people in an extended family died - showed genetic factors might influence human susceptibility to the H5N1 virus, it said.
Only blood relatives were infected in the Karo district of North Sumatra, the largest cluster known to date worldwide, “despite multiple opportunities for the virus to spread to spouses or into the general community,” it added.
The theory - which it said merited further study - was contained in WHO’s report from on a closed-door meeting of 35 scientific experts held in late September.
“A genetic predisposition for infection is suspected based on data from rare instances of human-to-human transmission in genetically-related persons,” the WHO said.
“This possibility, if more fully explored, might help explain why human cases are comparatively rare and why the virus is not spreading easily from animals to humans or from human to human,” it added.