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Vaccination remains the most effective strategy for preventing and controlling avian influenza in humans, as shown by a new review published in the journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. The review highlights the importance of vaccination in light of recent cases of H5N1 bird flu jumping from cattle to humans in America, raising concerns about potential human-to-human transmission. While the strain has mainly spread from cow-to-cow, two individuals have been infected with the virus, both of whom recovered with treatment. The CDC is closely monitoring the situation to prevent further spread of the virus.

The research, conducted by a team at the University of Georgia, USA, focused on the H5N1, H7N9, and H9N2 subtypes of avian influenza virus, which pose a dual threat to both the poultry industry and public health. Lead author Flavio Cargnin Faccin emphasizes the importance of vaccination as a primary defense against the spread of these viruses. The team reviewed studies of vaccines tested in animals and humans, as well as established and new vaccine platforms. Inactivated vaccines were found to be safe and affordable, primarily activating humoral immunity by producing antibodies. Live attenuated influenza vaccines were shown to induce a wider immune response, including mucosal and cellular defenses.

In addition to traditional vaccines, the review also explored alternatives such as virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines and messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. VLP vaccines for bird flu have shown promise in studies with mice and ferrets, while mRNA vaccines have generated a rapid and strong immune response in animal studies. Limited data in humans shows encouraging results from a phase 1 study of an H7N9 mRNA vaccine. The authors suggest that exploring a diverse range of vaccine platforms will be crucial for enhancing pandemic preparedness and mitigating the threat of avian influenza viruses.

The potential for avian influenza viruses to mutate and spread to humans poses a significant public health concern. The review stresses the importance of vaccination as the primary defense against such outbreaks, highlighting the need for ongoing research into new vaccine platforms. The team at the University of Georgia recommends further studies to fully understand the benefits of different vaccine approaches and enhance pandemic preparedness. By exploring a variety of vaccine platforms, researchers can better protect both humans and the agricultural industry from the threat of avian influenza.

In conclusion, vaccination remains the most effective strategy for preventing and controlling avian influenza in humans, as highlighted by a new review of bird flu vaccines. The review emphasizes the importance of vaccination in light of recent cases of H5N1 bird flu infecting humans, prompting concerns about potential human-to-human transmission. The team at the University of Georgia recommends further research into new vaccine platforms to enhance pandemic preparedness and mitigate the threat of avian influenza viruses. By exploring a diverse range of vaccine options, researchers can better protect both humans and the poultry industry from the potential risks of avian influenza outbreaks.

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