Seminar : Influenza pandemics and emerging infectious diseases

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As a part of "Science in the Community" seminar series, the Faculty of Health Sciences at MUBS hosted Dr. Hassan Zaraket, Assistant Professor of Virology at AUB. Dr. Zaraket's talk on May 8th at MUBS Damour Campus focused on the emergence of Ebola virus in Africa, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV), and the avian-origin influenza A/H7N9 virus. Previous studies have revealed that bats are the potential source of Ebola virus and MERS-CoV, although other species like baboons and camels, respectively, are thought to act as intermediate hosts that spread these viruses to humans. On the other hand, live bird markets (chickens and ducks) are considered to be the source for H7N9 infections.
Dr. Zaraket also discussed his own research, showing that the H7N9 virus, despite having some properties of mammalian viruses, transmits with poor efficiency in a mammalian transmission model (i.e. ferrets), and adapts poorly to mammals. Chickens on the other hand were found to support asymptomatic replication and silent spread of the virus while favoring genetic diversification of the virus. These findings suggest that controlling the virus in poultry is critical to preventing further spread of the virus and averting its threat to humans.

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