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H5N1 virus (bird flu) controversy
Shors, Teri Department of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
- Influenza viruses and their continuing threat
- Influenza is a wily virus
- Avian or bird flu
- Doomsday virus or no big deal
- Communicating H5N1 research and biosecurity
- Dual-use dilemma
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Two groups of researchers created a genetically modified version of bird flu virus that could easily spread among ferrets (the animal model for influenza research) in the laboratory. Their research was driven by the need to understand how influenza viruses can mutate into more lethal strains before they cause pandemics that could kill millions of people. These scientists want to publish their research. However, the announcement of the studies at a conference created controversy among experts, public health officials, and the general community. It started a universal debate over scientific openness versus the fear that terrorists or rogue states might use the influenza “cookbook” to create a global doomsday influenza pandemic.
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