Skip to comments.Bird Flu May Over-Stimulate Immune System
Posted on 11/11/2005 4:29:40 PM PST by blam
Bird flu may over-stimulate immune system
HONG KONG, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Researchers in Hong Kong say the H5N1 bird flu virus may provoke an excessive immune reaction, explaining why it is deadly even to the young and healthy.
Laboratory tests on human cells showed that the virus caused the immune system to send proteins called cytokines to infected lung cells, a reaction that would end up damaging or destroying the tissues the immune system is meant to defend.
The tests were carried out by scientists at the University of Hong Kong, working with samples from patients who died in Vietnam. The results were published in the online medical journal Respiratory Research.
The research suggested that patients who contract bird flu may need drugs that suppress the immune response in addition to anti-viral drugs like Tamiflu. It also indicated that healthy people with strong immune systems could fare worse than others if they became infected.
The virus has killed flocks of poultry and migratory birds, particularly in Asia, in recent months, but only 124 people have been infected, through direct contact with birds. Sixty-four of them have died.
The new research may affect preparations by health officials worldwide, who fear a pandemic may occur if the virus mutates to become passed from human to human.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
By KATE WALKER
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Amidst growing concern over China's ability to control outbreaks of avian influenza, a report published in the online journal Respiratory Research Friday revealed that an H5N1 pandemic may disproportionately affect the young and healthy.
Hong Kong scientists studying the virus have discovered that H5N1 attacks its host by overwhelming the immune system in a "storm" of inflammatory proteins, 10 times more than in the annual "seasonal" influenza.
The affected proteins are those responsible for regulating the immune system's response to an attack. In the case of H5N1 infection, the drastically altered balance of proteins in the immune system leads to "an uncontrolled inflammatory response in the lung" and may explain the lung inflammation so common in sufferers of bird flu.
The study suggests that the young and healthy may be more susceptible to an avian-influenza pandemic, as their immune systems put up more of a fight against the disease, leading to the "storms" outlined in the report.
British insurers are concerned that they may be unable to cope with a bird-flu pandemic, especially if it affects those between 30 and 50, as that is the demographic most likely to hold life-insurance policies.
Although British insurance companies are the first to express concerns over the financial impact of avian influenza on their industry, today's Respiratory Research report indicates it will soon be a matter of global concern.
-- New Scientist has reported that China's Liaoning province has reported three new outbreaks in the past 24 hours and that there are indications of a suspected human case in the region.
However, 121 people in Liaoning province who complained of fever have been found not to be infected with any form of avian influenza.
-- Contrary to Thursday's reports that the two birds found infected with a form of avian influenza in Kuwait were not carrying a dangerous strain of the disease, a wild flamingo was found to have suffered from the deadly, high pathogenic strain of H5N1.
The bird did not die of bird flu but was destroyed by Kuwaiti authorities.
-- An 18-month-old Bangkok toddler has been confirmed as Thailand's 21st case of avian influenza.
The boy was taken to hospital as soon as he displayed flu-like symptoms and is said to be recovering.
-- Also in Thailand, newly appointed Public Health Minister Pinij Jarusombat spoke out against bird-flu cover-ups and said that any public official found guilty of such an attempt would face severe penalties.
Under the new policies, in place since Nov. 4, doctors found guilty of falsifying patient information with regard to avian influenza would be charged with breach of conduct and considered in breach of medical ethics.
The minister was responding to earlier charges by the Senate Public Health Commission that coverups had taken place in Thailand.
-- Rockeby, a Singaporean company, has launched 10-minute bird-flu testing kits, it was announced Friday.
Although the World Health Organization does not currently endorse any tests for avian influenza, it plans to standardize international testing for the disease.
An American test mentioned in Wednesday's Fluwrap will be released through the WHO in January. When asked about the Rockeby test, WHO officials declined to comment.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
It seems that the SARS virus did the same thing. Most people died of pneumonia caused by the person's own white blood immune cells.
Cortico-steroids, which suppresses the immune system slightly, was the most effective treatment for SARS.
OMG - it is the 1918 flu. That is exactly what happened - it killed all of the young and healthy, thus ending WWI.
Yep. Maybe not the same flu, but the same mechanism.
Maybe being an old fart does have some advantages.
Similarities between 1918 and H5N1 viruses:
Proving that we are our own worst enemies...
Yup--it got my Grand-dad in Louisiana. His daughter (my mom) was four years old at the time.
If the major threat is cytokine storm, it seems like this
is encouraging news, since there are apparently ways to
I don't know. I am hoping to get people with this knowledge to give us some insights on this new information.
(Cytokine Storm:) Of course, flu vaccines are usually effective at preventing the flu during its peak season. But they are no guarantee, especially when flu strains mutate after the vaccine has been manufactured. Therefore, researchers are pursuing other methods of preventing the Cytokine storm by bioengineering a drug that could slow the snowball effect of antibodies. They hope to force the cytokines to recirculate in the bloodstream, rather than pool in the lungs. Experts predict that a major influenza pandemic could kill millions of people worldwide as it has done in centuries past.
Evidently, a reliable anti-cytokine treatment is not here, but efforts are being focused towards that end.
Excerpt: The new drug, an OX40 fusion protein called OX40:Ig, works by binding to the OX40 receptor and blocking activated T-cells. OX40:Ig, supplied by the company Xenova Research, stopped the symptoms of flu in mice.
"hemophagocytosis" is the rough equivalent here of "storm". H5N1 is the name for this virus.
It sounds really nasty. Really nasty.
China reported two new bird flu cases yesterday, including one in a province that has already suffered three outbreaks. Reports of the new outbreaks coincided with suggestions that counterfeit flu vaccines being sold in the province could be worsening the public health threat.
The latest incidents brought the total number of cases reported by China in the recent scare to eight. The outbreaks occurred in Liaoning province and Jingshan county. China has not reported any human infections in this round of outbreaks, but experts say that one is inevitable with so many cases reported in poultry.
In Thailand, a toddler became the 21st Thai to become infected with the disease.