A new flu strain discovered recently, which is a type of avian virus, has scientists worried. A novel influenza mutation in New England harbor seals, which originated in birds, could possibly infect humans.
Friday, Fox News said a study published in mBioÂ®, an online journal of the American Society for Microbiology, outlined the virus that has scientists alarmed.
"We weren't specifically looking for flu," Lipkin said. "We were trying to solve a problem - why were we suddenly losing all these cute baby seals? We try to do work on animals we think are important, and in this case it was seals. At first we were surprised to find these animals had pneumonia. We then used methods that have been developed to identify disease and found they had this flu." ~ Dr. Ian Lipkin, lead author of the study on the flu strain dubbed H3N8.
Yearly, influenza claims the lives of about 40,000 people in the United States alone. As such, it poses a threat to healthcare practitioners, the CDC, and labs working round the clock to create the right vaccine.
A different type of influenza strain complicates the work already in place by the Centers For Disease Control in trying to lessen the threat of the H1N1 flu virus.
Several research institutions discovered the novel virus by accident. While looking for a reason New England harbor baby seals had pneumonia and bird flu, researchers discovered H3N8.
Here's the problem: H3N8 is traced back to 2002, where it infected birds. The trouble now is that it has developed the capacity to infect seals, similar to the swine flu in pigs.
Can you imagine another so-called threat of an epidemic with another type of influenza virus that threatens humans? With so many other strains scientists are fighting, developing just the right vaccine poses a challenge due to the threat of mutations.
With the new flu strain discovered, scientists must watch its progress to decide if it will migrate to humans. Obviously, this is a worst-case scenario.