New from NPR! 禽流感情勢稍緩,但仍不可掉以輕心!





From NPR
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Public health experts公共衛生專家 have been anxiously watching China over the past couple weeks. A new flu viru禽流感s there has infected感染 dozens of people over a wide area around Shanghai. Most recently, a 7-year-old in Beijing contracted罹患/得病 the virus. NPR's Richard Knox says flu researchers are trying to figure out what sort of threat威脅 this virus poses.(to pose a threat to…造成威脅)

RICHARD KNOX, BYLINE: Last Thursday, a precious package arrived at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention美國疾病控制與預防中心 in Atlanta. Inside, packed in dry ice乾冰 to keep it frozen, was a vial小玻璃瓶 of viruses taken from a 35-year-old Chinese housewife who died last Tuesday. The package was addressed to the CDC's top flu virologist病毒學家, Nancy Cox.

NANCY COX: Once we got the virus, we took it immediately to the appropriate level of biocontainment生物防護等級.

KNOX: That's a so-called Biosafety-3 lab生物安全等級三實驗室, where researchers can keep this dangerous virus under tight control進行嚴密控管.

COX: We unpacked it from the various levels of protection - that is, containers in which it is placed in order to ensure that it doesn't spill散布出去. And then the work actually began.

KNOX: There's a lot of urgent work to do, according to scientists in far-flung遙遠的 labs who also got samples of the virus at the end of last week. In London, virologist John McCauley wants to develop a reliable test可靠度高的測試 to see who's been infected with H7N9, as this virus is called.

JOHN MCCAULEY: The top priority首要任務 is diagnosis診斷(複數為diagnoses) - capability of the global networkm全球系統 to be able to pick up診斷出/辨識出 this virus should it emerge outside of China.

KNOX: At St. Jude's Research Hospital in Memphis, flu researcher Richard Webby is getting started on a vaccine疫苗.

RICHARD WEBBY: We'll start preparing some vaccine seed strains against it, you know, just in case.
KNOX: Having a seed strain疫苗株(病毒株英文為virus strain) is the first step in making a vaccine. CDC scientists have a long list of projects. Cox plans to infect ferrets雪貂(白鼬鼠), weasel-like mammals類似鼬鼠的哺乳類動物 considered close to humans接近人類 in the way they respond to 所產生的反應flu viruses. She especially wants to see if ferrets can pass this virus on傳播/傳染 to other ferrets.

COX: We are very eager to do the transmission studies傳染研究 in ferrets. We're very keen to非常熱衷 develop antiserum抗血清 to this virus.

KNOX: Having an antiserum will enable scientists to tell if people close to the known cases in China have been infected without getting seriously ill. There are many mysteries to solve. One of the most puzzling令人感到困惑的 things is how H7N9 has infected people in such a broad area一個非常廣泛的區域of southeast China. Poultry 家禽and wild birds are currently the only known source of infection是唯一確知的感染源. But last week the Chinese reported only 14 infected birds in five different markets. Epidemiologist 流行病學家Marc-Alain Widdowson is in charge of tracking負責追蹤 the infections at the CDC.

MARC-ALAIN WIDDOWSON: It does look as if the infected poultry have dispersed throughout散布遍及 this large area of roughly 400 miles by 400 miles. And it's likely, I think, that there will be more cases in adjacent provinces鄰近的省份 in the weeks to come.

KNOX: Cases of H7N9 have been increasing at a faster pace以快速的方式增加 than cases of another deadly致命的 bird flu virus called H5N1, which researchers have been watching for more than 10 years. But Widdowson says cases of this new virus may soon go up even more because the Chinese have begun testing people for it nationally. So far, he's reassured that monitoring監控 of nearly 800 close contacts密切接觸 of H7N9 cases hasn't turned up firm evidence鐵證 that this virus can be spread easily. But that doesn't mean it won't happen. Nancy Cox notes the virus already has two genetic changes基因改變 that enable it to infect human cells and reproduce複製/繁殖 at humans' body temperature.

COX: Which means that these viruses may already be partially adapted部分適應 - not totally adapted完全適應 but partially adapted - towards the type of virus that might efficiently transmit from human to human.

KNOX: She says the coming weeks may tell whether H7N9 is only a bird disease that occasionally spills over into傳染給 humans, the potential seed of a dangerous global flu pandemic潛在的全球性危險傳染病 or something in between.

Richard Knox, NPR News.


















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