Bird Flu Study Made Bird Flu More Contagious, Researchers Say
According to the journal Nature University of Wisconsin scientists created an airborne strain of H5N1 that was transmissible in mammals, making the already deadly virus even more powerful.
The study was powerful enough that according to the Washington Post a federal panel had asked that the study not be published in full for fear that it could be turned into a guide for bioterrorists to follow. Since that request the panel has dropped their objections, noting that while more contagious the new H5N1 strand is far less deadly than the virus scientists were hoping to study more closely.
To create the more contagious version of the virus scientists added two mutations to the H5N1 strain and then mixed in the genes from swine before releasing the virus on a group of ferrets.
While the ferrets caught the virus quite easily none of them died or even became very sick.
Before everyone starts thinking the virus was mutated for nefarious reasons it should be noted that this type of research is used to determine how a virus might mutate and begin spreading in the future.
While this particular new strand of the virus is not all that deadly scientists warn that the simply process they used to create the quick spreading version of the virus could lend itself to a more powerful, easier to spread virus mutation in the future. One virologist tells teh LA Times ”It’s a great place to start looking for exactly what’s going on.”
This isn’t the first concern we have seen regarding bird flu, several researcher facilities were shut down for short periods of time because of terrorism and healthy standards based concerns.
Are you freaked out by human mutated viruses?