Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bird Flu: Just a Few Mutations Away From a Potential Pandemic



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Did you forget about your fear of Bird Flu? It's about to be ba-ack.

In an article published in Science this week, an international team of scientists describe how, in an experiment with a population of ferrets, they were able to mutate the H5N1 virus to become transmissible through the air in just 10 generations of the pathogen. The paper goes on to say there are already Avian Flu strains in existence that are just three mutations away from human-to-human infection. Even worse—those three mutations could very well evolve in just one human host, making the possibility of a Bird Flu pandemic an imminent threat.

There is some good news. While the infectious disease can cause serious illness and death in humans, ferrets that inhaled the mutant virus didn't die from the infection. So at least as a bioweapon, airborne Avian Flu is a bust. Talk about cold comfort.

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