Friday July 20, 2018

Three Mutations if Occurred at Same Time Could Turn Bird Flu a Potential Pandemic: Experts

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Bird Flu
Health officers cull poultry at a wholesale market, as trade in live poultry is suspended after a spot check at a local street market revealed the presence of H7N9 bird flu virus, in Hong Kong June 7, 2016. VOA
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  • The flu strain, known as H7N9 has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China
  • Mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells, making the virus more dangerous to people
  • Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance

London, June 18, 2017: Scientists have identified three mutations that, if they occurred at the same time in nature, could turn a strain of bird flu now circulating in China into a potential pandemic virus that could spread among people.

The flu strain, known as H7N9, now mostly infects birds but it has infected at least 779 people in outbreaks in and around China, mainly related to poultry markets.

The World Health Organization said earlier this year that all bird flu viruses need constant monitoring, warning that their constantly changing nature makes them “a persistent and significant threat to public health.”

At the moment, the H7N9 virus does not have the capability to spread sustainably from person to person. But scientists are worried it could at any time mutate into a form that does.

To assess this risk, researchers led by James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in California looked at mutations that could potentially take place in the genome of the H7N9 virus.

They focused on the H7 hemagglutanin, a protein on the flu virus surface that allows it to latch onto host cells.

The team’s findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens on Thursday, showed that in laboratory tests, mutations in three amino acids made the virus more able to bind to human cells — suggesting these changes are key to making the virus more dangerous to people.

Scientists not directly involved in this study said its findings were important, but should not cause immediate alarm.

“This study will help us to monitor the risk posed by bird flu in a more informed way, and increasing our knowledge of which changes in bird flu viruses could be potentially dangerous will be very useful in surveillance,” said Fiona Culley, an expert in respiratory immunology at Imperial College London.

She noted that while “some of the individual mutations have been seen naturally, … these combinations of mutations have not,” and added: “The chances of all three occurring together is relatively low.”

Wendy Barclay, a virologist and flu specialist also at Imperial, said the study’s findings were important in showing why H7N9 bird flu should be kept under intense surveillance.

“These studies keep H7N9 virus high on the list of viruses we should be concerned about,” she said. “The more people infected, the higher the chance that the lethal combination of mutations could occur.” (VOA)

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WHO Adds ‘Gaming Disorder’ In The List Of Mental Health Condition

Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders

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WHO Added 'Gaming Disorder' In The List Of Mental Health Condition
These Games Will Surely Give You Wanderlust. Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now included “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The ICD, a diagnostic manual published by the WHO, was last updated in 1990 and its new edition, ICD-11, has included gaming disorder as a serious health condition that needs to be monitored.

“Gaming disorder has been added to the section on addictive disorders,” the WHO said in a statement.

This classification means health professionals and systems will be more “alerted to the existence of this condition” while boosting the possibility that “people who suffer from these conditions can get appropriate help”, Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, was quoted as telling the CNN.

“Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder,” he said, adding that the overall prevalence of this condition is “very low”.

“And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that,” he noted.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health — such as unsafe workflows in hospitals — can be identified and reduced, the statement said.

It also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide, it has never been classified in this system.

children Playing game on Laptop
children Playing game on Laptop, Pixabya

Another new chapter on sexual health brings together conditions that were previously categorised in other ways (e.g. gender incongruence was listed under mental health conditions) or described differently.

ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by member states, and will come into effect on January 1, 2022.

“ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease,” said Lubna Alansari, WHO’s Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement).

The ICD is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, and contains around 55,000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death.

Gaming T.v
Gaming T.v, Pixabay

Also read: ASUS Expands its Gaming Laptop line-up in India

It provides a common language that allows health professionals to share health information across the globe. (IANS)