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The discovery may help scientists better monitor changes in the H5N1 bird flu virus that could trigger a deadly pandemic in humans. And it may lead to better ways to fight it, they said. The H5N1 avian flu virus now almost exclusively infects birds. But it can occasionally pass to a person. Experts have feared that the bird flu virus would evolve slightly into a form that people can easily catch and pass to one another, triggering an epidemic. Before a flu virus can enter a human respiratory cell, a protein on the surface of the virus must bind with chains of sugars called glycans that sit on the outside of the cells. To infect humans, scientists thought the H5N1 bird flu virus would need to simply mutate so it could bind with alpha 2-6 receptors. But it turns out not all alpha 2-6 receptors are the same. Some are short and cone-shaped and some are long and umbrella-shaped. So far, the bird flu virus has found a way to bind only to the cone- shaped structures in human upper airways. The virus has already killed 216 people and infected 348 people in 14 countries, according to the World Health Organization. But the study found that the most infectious human flu viruses bind with the umbrella- shaped receptors in the upper respiratory tract. The researchers believe the H5N1 bird flu virus would need to adapt so it could latch on to these umbrella-shaped receptors before it could be spread readily from human to human. Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22537347/

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    January 6, HealthDay – (National) 15,000 toy wagons recalled for too much lead. Some 15,000 red wagons imported from China by Tricam Industries of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, violate the federal lead paint standard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in announcing the wagons’ recall. The recall involves model MH1250. The wagons were sold at Tractor Supply Co. stores across the U.S. from September 2002 through November 2007 for about $30. No injuries have been reported. Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/content/article/2008/01/06/AR2008010600957.html

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    January 5, KSNW 3 Wichita – (Kansas) Virus outbreak leaves Wichita hospitals scrambling to make room. An outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) has Wichita hospitals at capacity. It is a dangerous virus that is causing the worst outbreak Wesley Medical Center has seen in three years. Wesley Medical Center is at capacity withchildren who also have the virus. It is the worst outbreak Wesley has seen in three years. Doctors at Wesley said there is good reason for concern, especially for young children and babies. Via-Christi hospitals have also seen RSV cases double in some of its pediatric units. Wesley is shuffling adult patients to other rooms to make space for all of the sick children. If more come in, Wesley may have to send children miles away for treatment. “Once we’ve exhausted all of our resources, then we divert to other cities, whether it’s Kansas City, Denver or Oklahoma City,” said Wesley’s Pediatric Manager. That is what Wesley did during the last major outbreak. It could happen again because RSV does not usually peak until February. Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22509947/

21. January 4, KFOX 14 El Paso – (Texas) El Pasoans could wait weeks for medicine in bioterrorism attack. If something like an anthrax attack or the pandemic flu hits El Paso, Texas, El Paso’s Bioterrorism Pandemic Flu Preparedness Program said it will be

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