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Study shows potential of avian influenza to infect humans
Avian influenza viruses isolated from Pakistan are able to escape vaccine immunity and adapt to infect humans.
Finding could lead to reduced vaccine efficiency

Avian influenza viruses isolated from Pakistan are able to escape vaccine immunity and adapt to infect humans, according to new research. This could lead to reduced vaccine efficiency and the possibility of human outbreaks.

The study led by The Pirbright Institute found that small changes to a surface protein of the H9N2 influenza A virus (haemagglutinin), enables the mutated virus to enter human cells.

In most cases, influenza viruses that infect humans and chickens use different host cell receptors in the early attachment stage.

“In this study, we demonstrated the mutant can bind to human-type cell receptors, but its preference for avian-like receptors remains,” explained Professor Munir Iqbal, head of the Avian Influenza group at Pirbright.

“H9N2 viruses cause moderate illness and death rates in domestic poultry and do not cause severe disease in humans, but the capability of an H9N2 avian influenza virus to bind to human-like receptors raises concern for potential human transmission.”

Researchers are now working to ascertain how this mutant H9N2 avian influenza A virus could generate a mutation that hits the right balance whilst retaining its ability to bind to human-like receptors.

This information will allow better screening of circulating avian influenza viruses for traits that may allow them to infect humans, providing early warning to their pandemic potential.

The study, Association of Increased Receptor-Binding Avidity of Influenza A(H9N2) Viruses with Escape from Antibody-Based Immunity and Enhanced Zoonotic Potential, is published in Emerging Infectious Diseases.  

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Registrations open for overseas veterinary professionals course

News Story 1
 Registrations are now open for the RCVS CPD course for overseas veterinary professionals, which covers an introduction to the UK veterinary professions.

The course is aimed at overseas-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses during their first two years of working in the UK, in addition to those considering working here. It provides graduates with the key information and skills required to practice in the UK, as well as helping them understand their legal duties as veterinary professionals.

For more information and to book your place please click here. The course will be held at Belgravia House, London, on Wednesday 12 June.  

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New online guides provide advice for dog owners

A series of downloadable leaflets for dog owners have been produced by veterinary charity PetSavers in a bid to reduce the temptation to seek advice online.

The series entitled ‘My Dog’s Got’ offers practical information on an array of topics, including ‘My dog has dental disease,’ ‘My dog has itchy skin,’ and My dog has kidney disease.’

The new guides can be downloaded here. Printed versions of the new guides can be ordered by veterinary practices in exchange for a donation to PetSavers.