Texas Tech Working To Protect Humans From Bird Flu - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/7/05

Texas Tech Working To Protect Humans From Bird Flu

The bird flu has killed millions of animals and 47 people in Asia, and health experts are worried the problem could mushroom.

The only way to get the bird flu now is from infected poultry....a problem of particular concern in Thailand and Vietnam. The only threat to western nations would be if the virus somehow mutated so that it could be passed from human to human. That's where Texas Tech may be coming to the rescue.

Here in Lubbock, Tech researchers are very close to developing a drug that could prevent the virus from spreading. The theory? An increase in selenium intake would strengthen human and animal resistance to the disease.

"That they take a look at the selenium levels in their commercial feed operations. If selenium is not available to animals, then these animals have a higher risk of viral mutations," says Dr. Julian Spallholz, TTU professor, Department of Nutrition.

Tech researchers are also using selenium to develop a drug that would attack the virus and stop the disease in humans. But they say it could be up to a year before the development of the bird flu drug is complete.

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