Saturday, July 30, 2005

Influenza Viruses

For those still not concerned about the potential of an influenza virus, like H5N1 to become a lethal pandemic strain should read this news report about a paper in PLoS Biology about flu virus evolution. Essentially, the researchers found that influenza can exchange parts of its genome much more frequently than was originally anticipated. This is particularly worrying, especially as there are numerous benign strains that are going around each year, ones that we don't feel the need to vaccinate against which could all serve as a source for genes to make H5N1 more lethal than it currently is. Add to this problem that China may be hiding its total bird flu cases and we could be looking at something extremely dangerous.