Horses Immune to Bird Flu? Chinese Study Shows Horse Antibodies Key to Possible Prevention - The Horse Owner's Resource

Horses Immune to Bird Flu? Chinese Study Shows Horse Antibodies Key to Possible Prevention

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Horses can be health heroes for more than their own kind, check out this news:

Courtesy of Science Daily

Antibodies against the bird flu virus H5N1, derived from horses, prevent mice infected with H5N1 from dying from the virus. A study published in the open access journal Respiratory Research (http://respiratory-research.com) reveals that a dose of 100 ?g of horse anti-serum effectively protects infected mice. These results suggest that anti-H5N1 antibodies developed in horses could potentially be used to prevent death from H5N1 influenza, or as early treatment for the disease, in humans.

Jiahai Lu from Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China and colleagues from other institutions in China infected dog kidney cells in vitro with a lethal dose of H5N1 and simultaneously exposed the cells to horse antibodies against H5N1. Lu et al.'s results show that horse antibodies to H5N1 protected cells against H5N1 in vitro - the cells simultaneously infected with H5N1 and exposed to horse antibodies did not die.

Lu et al. then injected horse antibodies into 40 mice that had been infected with a lethal dose of H5N1 24 hours earlier. The authors also injected horse serum without H5N1 antibodies into a group of mice that acted as controls.

The authors found that 50?g of antibody protected 70% of the mice against death by H5N1 and 100 ?g of antibody protected 100% of the mice. The mice in the control group died nine hours after receiving the normal horse serum.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by BioMed Central.

P.S. Cats aren't as lucky as horses, and can actually become host organisms for bird flu; this has been happening in Asia and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization warns that cats should be removed from sites where bird flu exists. Cats can become infected by feeding on sick domestic or wild birds; they can develop severe to fatal disease and excrete the virus from the respiratory and digestive tracts.

This raises some concern not only because cats could act as intermediary hosts in the spread of the H5N1 virus between species but also because growth in cats might help the H5N1 virus to adapt into a more highly infectious strain that could spark an influenza pandemic. However, the UN is advising that cats NOT be killed routinely at outbreak sites, since they are so vital to the control of rats, which can spread so many diseases.

To learn more about cats and bird flu:
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21496&Cr=bird&Cr1=flu