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Avian Influenza Virus (H9N2)

Why is it in the news?

  • Avian influenza virus (H9N2) has recently caused an outbreak in northern China, accompanied by respiratory illness clusters in children.


More about the news

  • H9N2 belongs to the Influenza A virus subtype and primarily infects birds, though it can sporadically infect humans.
  • Its geographical distribution spans various countries, with a notable presence in Asia and the Middle East.
  • Human infections with H9N2 typically result in mild respiratory symptoms, but the concern lies in its potential to reassort with other influenza viruses, potentially leading to more virulent or transmissible strains.
  • Developing vaccines for H9N2 is challenging due to its considerable antigenic diversity, requiring targeting of multiple strains for effective immunity.
  • H9N2 is part of the broader concern surrounding avian influenza viruses with pandemic potential.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the risk assessment for H9N2 indicates a low probability of human-to-human transmission and a low case fatality rate among reported human cases.

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