Bird flu in China passed to human beings via chickens according to experts

H7N9, the official name given to the bird flu outbreak in China that took place in the early part of this year is believed by scientists to have been transferred to human beings from chickens that were infected by ducks. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by scientists in Shantou University Medical College.

The team was led by Yongyi Shen, Jia Wang, and Tommy Tsan-Yuk. These scientists along with a large team of medical students who collaborated in the experiments arrived at the conclusion that it was not possible to get to the source of the strain called H7N9.

In the initial stages of the investigations, it appeared that the virus was a result of mutation of viruses such as H7, H9N2, and N9. The virus reflected receptor binding and some amino acids to raise suspicion of being an altogether new strain. The scientists made use of a combination of techniques to prove that the virus, called H7, was probably transferred to human beings from infected chickens that received the virus from domestic ducks.

The scientists were also able to prove that the virus H7 fused with the strain called H9N2 to generate a totally new strain labelled as H7N9. From H7N9, the virus mutated to a strain called H7N7 which is a new strain that has not been recognized so far. First diagnosed in March 2013, the virus caused infections in 130 human beings and lead to deaths in 40 individuals.

In a statement issued by the scientists that was published along with their study in the scientific journal Nature, it was made clear that it as H7 virus that combined with H9N2 virus to subsequently turn into H7N9 virus. The virus spread to chickens over large area in China and they became the source of infection in human beings.