Avian flu viruses and human flu viruses attach themselves to different parts of the human airway, US researchers say. This could explain why transmission of avian flu viruses between humans is rare. The viruses bind to different versions of the same molecule and these are distributed differently in man and birds. The result is that in humans, avian viruses concentrate in the alveoli of the lungs, while human flu viruses localise higher up the airway where they are more likely to be spread by coughing and sneezing (Nature 2006; 440: 435-6).
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