H5N1 bird flu has caused serious disease and deaths in humans. More than half of the almost 600 patients have died. The virus has not, however, sparked off an influenza pandemic as it cannot spread efficiently from human to human. Research supervised by Ron Fouchier, a fellow virologist in the laboratory that I head at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, has shown that only a handful of mutations would allow the virus to spread efficiently among mammals. Similar experiments carried out by a US-Japanese group have yielded largely the same data.
These experiments seem to have rekindled the debate that has smoldered since the last bio-terrorist attacks took place in the US more than a decade ago.… Seguir leyendo »