Chicken Resistant to Avian Flu will Emerge: WHO expert

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov.18: Genetic engineering in the near future will create chicken which are resistant to avian flu, says noted virologist Dr. Webster Dr. Robert G. Webster a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert on influenza. 

Dr. Webster was delivering a public lecture at the Govt. Medical College here today on ‘The Influenza Virus Enigma’, hosted by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, in connection with the  Foundation Day of the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India.

Even though infected by certain types of deadly flu virus, ducks look perfectly healthy, but chicken die when these viruses pass on to them, said the virologist, who is a Professor at Division of Virology, Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis (U.S.A) .

 “Ducks are resistant to the virus due to a gene called RIG-1. If scientists succeed in transferring this gene to the chicken, they will also become immune to the disease. Intensive efforts are on to achieve this, but still the possibility of human infection will remain. Viruses in birds will live for many years but when they move to hosts, there will be deadly reaction,” he pointed out.  

If the previous threats to the Indian population were from HINI virus, in the coming days, two other strains, H5N1 and H7N9, are going to be lethal. In China and the US, 60 per cent of the human beings infected with these viruses died.

“Now H5N1 has moved to Bangladesh from China and the viruses could easily land in India soon,” he cautioned.

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