Immediate treatment only hope for AI victims
Bird flu affects its victims in a similar way to the 1918 flu
pandemic, and immediate treatment with antiviral drugs is crucial to prevent
fatalities, according to research undertaken at Oxford
The researchers say that avian
kills its human victims by drowning them in fluids produced
in their own lungs, much like the Spanish flu did.
They say that the virus reproduces so quickly that if antiviral treatment
is not administered within 48 hours, victims are pushed into a rapid decline to
â€œThe paradigm 'hit hard and hit early' probably is very true for H5N1
influenza,â€ said Dr Menno D de Jong, an Oxford University
virologist and the
study's lead author.
Dr Anne Moscona, a professor of pediatrics and immunology at the Weill Cornell Medical
, called the research a 'major advance', because so
little clinical information had previously been gleaned from the 241 known cases
of the disease.
Dr de Jong also said that the human body's own immune response, called the
'cykotine storm', contributed to the damage, and that doctors should also
consider providing anti-inflammatory drugs along with antivirals. The cykotine
storm is a result of the body sending white blood cells to target chemical
invaders in the lungs. But when this happens too vigorously, it can flood the
lungs, causing deadly pneumonia.
The researchers also found that avian flu virus was easier to detect in
throat swabs than in nasal swabs, Dr de Jong said, and that the virus was found
in rectal swabs, means that diarrhoea, common among flu patients, can also
spread the disease.
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