(Sitting in the Synthetic Biology 2.0 meeting, so this will be brief.)
The Australian Broadcast Company is carrying an interview in which Andrew Jeremijenko, Project Leader of the Influenza Surveillance Studies for a US Naval Medical Research Group, suggests the outbreak in Indonesia may be directly related to infection in cats.
The article, entitled "Failed Indonesian bird flu response concerns experts", by Peter Cave, contains the following exchange:
PETER CAVE: Are you seeing mutations in the virus in Indonesia?
ANDREW JEREMIJENKO: Yes, that's a good question. We are seeing mutations in the human virus. We are not seeing that same mutation in the bird virus. And that's of great concern.
Basically, when you do an investigation of a bird flu case, you should try to find the virus from the human and match it up with the virus from the bird and find the cause.
Now, in Indonesia, the investigations have been sub-optimal, and they have not been able to match the human virus to the poultry virus, so we really do not know where that virus is coming from in most of these human cases.
PETER CAVE: Does it suggest it's going through an intermediary before it's infecting humans?
[Andrew Jeremijenko]: It's a possibility that we can't rule out. I think they really need to do a lot more investigations. So far the closest match we have to the human virus is from a cat virus. So the cat could be an intermediate. We really don't know what's happening yet.