Influenza type A virus: an outstandingly protean pathogen and a potent modular weapon.
Summary of "Influenza type A virus: an outstandingly protean pathogen and a potent modular weapon."
A remarkable debate recently arose on a global scale, about bioethics, biohazard, bioweaponry and bioterrorism issues related to scientific research concerning the induced transition of the highly lethal H5N1 avian flu virus from a non-pandemic to a tentatively pandemic strain, which might fall into malevolent hands. Appreciable ecogenetic complexity marks the main attributes of influenza type A viruses, namely infectivity, virulence, antigenicity, transmissibility, host range, endemicity, and epidemicity. They all shape, conjunctively, the outstanding protean nature of this pathogen, hence the modularity of the latter as a potent weapon. The present analysis inquires into those attributes, so as to profile and gauge threat, usability, impact and coping, particularly that the dimension of genetic engineering of this virus largely amplifies its potential. Within that context, various human interventions and misuses, including human experimental infections, undesirable vaccinations, as well as unauthorized and unskillful operations, led to bad corollaries and are also discussed in the present study. Altogether, a variety of interrelated properties underlying the complicatedness of and menaces posed by influenza A virus as a grave medical challenge, a dually explorable pathogen, and a modular biological warfare agent, are thereby illuminated, alongside with their scientific, strategic and practical implications.
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University , Ramat-Gan , Israel.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Critical reviews in microbiology
- PubMed Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22690739
- DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/1040841X.2012.692355
Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions
Influenza B Virus
Species of the genus INFLUENZAVIRUS B that cause HUMAN INFLUENZA and other diseases primarily in humans. Antigenic variation is less extensive than in type A viruses (INFLUENZA A VIRUS) and consequently there is no basis for distinct subtypes or variants. Epidemics are less likely than with INFLUENZA A VIRUS and there have been no pandemics. Previously only found in humans, Influenza B virus has been isolated from seals which may constitute the animal reservoir from which humans are exposed.
Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus
Membrane glycoproteins from influenza viruses which are involved in hemagglutination, virus attachment, and envelope fusion. Fourteen distinct subtypes of HA glycoproteins and nine of NA glycoproteins have been identified from INFLUENZA A VIRUS; no subtypes have been identified for Influenza B or Influenza C viruses.
Influenza A Virus
The type species of the genus INFLUENZAVIRUS A that causes influenza and other diseases in humans and animals. Antigenic variation occurs frequently between strains, allowing classification into subtypes and variants. Transmission is usually by aerosol (human and most non-aquatic hosts) or waterborne (ducks). Infected birds shed the virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces.
A genus of the family ORTHOMYXOVIRIDAE comprising viruses similar to types A and B but less common, more stable, more homogeneous, and lacking the neuraminidase protein. They have not been associated with epidemics but may cause mild influenza. Influenza C virus is the type species.
A genus in the family ORTHOMYXOVIRIDAE causing influenza and other diseases in humans and animals. It contains many strains as well as antigenic subtypes of the integral membrane proteins hemagglutinin (HEMAGGLUTININS) and NEURAMINIDASE. The type species is INFLUENZA A VIRUS.
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