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Human antibodies that neutralize respiratory droplet transmissible H5N1 influenza viruses

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There have been several outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses affecting humans over the past decade, the causes of which have been limited to direct human contact with infected birds. Recent publications suggest that a very small number of coding mutations in the viral HA gene render the virus transmissible via respiratory droplets between ferrets (1, 2). Humans lack potent immunity against influenza viruses carrying the H5 HA, and therefore the natural occurrence of a mammalian-adapted high pathogenicity H5N1 influenza virus might cause a major pandemic marked by high mortality.

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