Researchers at The University of Melbourne are warning that a severe new “bird flu” strain could pose a significant risk to Indigenous Australians, after finding they were far more susceptible to the virus than other community members.
The study found that human immunity to the H7N9 influenza virus, which emerged in China last year, varied according to ethnicity. While 57 per cent of “Caucasoid” people had a robust T-cell response to the virus, only 16 per cent of Indigenous people in Australia and North America had the same protection.
The H7N9 virus emerged in China in March 2013 and has so far spread to Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is a strain of the avian influenza virus that shot to prominence due to pandemic fears over another strain, H5N1.