Forget H5N1, H3N0 is a killer too

According to the People’s Daily Online, the first Vietnamese have died of H3N0 another strain of the influenza A virus, related to but different from the increasingly familiar H5N1. From the scaremongering point of view, there’s no need to hold the frontpage (at least outside Vietnam) as this strain is far less virulent than H5N1.

However, it does bring to light an aspect of flu viruses that gets little mention in the media – avian influenza has killed very few people, especially compared with the number of annual deaths from human influenza, but should any of these avian strains jump between species they are likely to lose their virulence to a great degree. One flu expert told us that, “H5N1 will surely decrease in lethality as it becomes more infectious between humans…no doubt about it.” More on that next week…

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Sharp-shooting photographer and wannabe rock god.