Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Research confirms human to human transmission of avian flu

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:211

Rapid Response:

Avian 'flu - genetic susceptibility?

In relation to the vast number of chicken farmers apparently exposed
in S.E.Asia, the proportion of severe & fatal cases seems relatively
small. Perhaps they mainly affect persons "constitutionally" (genetically)
susceptible to the virulent viruses.[1] Evidence is scanty but in one family
outbreak of H5N1 reported early in the current epidemic the Viet-Namese
man and his two sisters (sharing family genes) died; his genetically
different new wife who also helped prepare chickens for the feast
recovered from her illness, and wedding guests were unaffected.[2] I hope
investigations of incidents include genetic tests of involved humans as
well as of the viruses.


1 Grist NR. Bird Flu - Asian Invasion?? in Glasgow Natural History Society's Newsletter April-May 2004.

2 WHO Wkly Epid Record "Avian influenza A(H6N1) update 15 (2 Feb. 2004).

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 January 2005
Norman R GRIST
Emeritus Prof.of Infect.Dis. Univ. Glasgow; former head Regnl. Virus Lab. Glasgow.