Researchers eying different kind of flu as season winds down

Researchers eying different kind of flu as season winds down
(Source: Raycom Media)

(KAIT) - As the flu season winds down, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have their eyes set on the bird flu.

It's been three years since the bird flu devastated poultry farms throughout the Midwest, but now researchers are focusing on the virus's impact on the human population.

According to experts, it's associated with death in up to 40 percent of individuals who get infected. Currently, bird flu or avian flu only passes from animal to human. However, the flu's ability to mutate could change things.

"Flu is a virus that mutates a lot and there is some concern that it could mutate and then start being transmitted from human to human," said Dr. Paul Goepfert, Professor of Medicine and Microbiology.

Researchers at the Alabama Vaccine Clinic at UAB are testing out a vaccine that could combat the virus from spreading between human hosts. Though bird flu is an ongoing problem in China, Dr. Goepfert said that's not the case for the U.S. right now.

"We just want to be prepared that if this were to get out in the human population, we have a vaccine to combat against it," said Dr. Goepfert.

Researchers said they are still a couple years out from having a vaccine that's ready for the public, but they say there's no need for worry now. This is just a precautionary measure.

There are two months left in the trial. The University of Alabama at Birmingham is still looking for participants.

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