Scientists at the CDC and the University of South Alabama found that the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain H5N1 damages pulmonary endothelial cells by causing inflammation, leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome that is fatal in 60% of humans infected with H5N1. Other influenza strains do not target the endothelial cells in the same way. In light of these findings, anti-inflammatory medications may have a role in treating H5N1 infections, though scientists emphasize that combination therapies would be most effective.

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