Intended for healthcare professionals


Chinese avian influenza

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 31 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:325

The H5N1 virus will probably not result in a pandemic

  1. E Walker, Consultant epidemiologista,
  2. P Christie, Consultant epidemiologista
  1. a Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, Ruchill Hospital, Glasgow G20 9NB

    Influenza viruses are unique among respiratory viruses in exhibiting “drift,” which is change in surface antigens as a result of host immunological pressure. In addition, influenza A viruses exhibit “shift”—which is the genetic intermingling of human strains with animal or bird strains, resulting in completely new viruses of pandemic potential. This makes the production of long lasting comprehensive vaccines impossible and continual monitoring for the appearance of new strains essential. Moreover, unlike infections transmitted through blood, food, or water, those transmitted through the respiratory tract are difficult to control through public health measures apart from vaccination and in controlled situations such as laboratories or under barrier protection conditions. Hence the current interest in so called Chinese …

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