Influenza on the move

Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

Asia harbours influenza virus< East and Southeast Asia are probably the breeding grounds for influenza viruses. A study has shown that the virus spreads through densely-packed cities in the region before hitching a ride on human hosts to other parts of the world.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the uk, analyzed 13,000 samples of the most common influenza virus, a (h3n2), gathered across six continents between 2002 and 2007. They analyzed strains of the viruses and concluded that new strains of the virus first appeared in East and Southeast Asia, and reached Europe and North America about nine months later. South America is the last to be infected since people from the East and Southeast Asia travel less to the continent.

The findings are expected to help better understand the evolution of viral strains, which could lead to improved flu vaccines.

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