Even though the H7N9 bird flu killed 44 people in China in 2013, the virus still appears to be better adapted to infecting birds.
Researchers studied the structure of proteins from one strain of the H7N9 virus that caused the outbreak and tested how strongly one of the proteins bound to molecules on the surfaces of bird and human cells. The structure of the virus appears to be better adapted and to attach more strongly to the bird molecules compared with human molecules, the team reports December 6 in Science.
The results suggest that the current H7N9 virus does not yet have the needed mutations to cause an immediate global pandemic.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.