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Mike Poidinger mikep at biosci.uq.oz.au
Mon Jul 10 20:06:48 EST 1995

darcoda at telerama.lm.com (S. Frog) wrote:

>	Hi, and all that.

>	I'm not sure if this is the proper place to raise this question, 
>and forgive me if it isn't, but I have a question about the flu.
>	Actually, three questions:
>	Is the flu a retrovirus?

No, Flu is a flu virus, or more specifically, Orthomyxovirus.  Multi-segmented
negative strand genome, with no integration or RNA to DNA step such as occurs in
retro viruses.

>	If it isn't a retrovirus, do I have a faulty definition of what a 
>retrovirus is?

My guess would be yes, you do.  I have a feeling you have a pretty faulty idea
what a virus is, in fact.

>	Lastly, is it true that the flu has only been around for like a 
>hunred years or so?

Probably not.  Lack of specific viral information going back that far precludes
a definite answer on this point, but my guess is flu has been around as long as
we have, perhaps longer.

>  And that it mutated from something else, 

Aarrrggghhh!  mutated from something else?  Everything on the planet mutated
from something else at some stage.

>which is 
>why human has so little resistence to it when the influenza epidemic 
>roared through just after world war I?

Flu has two main proteins on its surface, H (haemagglutinin), and N
(neuraminidase).  These two proteins have certain antigenic determinants, which
are different for  different flu viruses.  In addition, there are different
strains of flu which infect different animals.  Now.  If you get two strains of
flu in the same animal, quite common in a country like China where people live
in close proximity to pigs, allowing pig-flu and human-flu to co infect, then it
is possible that a new virus is formed which is a chimera of the two parent
viruses, and to which humans have no resistance.  This is the source of new flu
outbreaks, and indeed was the couase of the WWI flu outbreak.


>								S. Frog


Dr Mike Poidinger      Now don't be lazy, 
Microbiology, UQ       with the pleasure of sin  (Nitzer Ebb)
mikep at biosci.uq.oz.au  

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