Genetically engineered, highly contagious strain of H5N1 causes controversy

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, working independently, have found a way to genetically engineer H5N1, the avian bird flu, to make it highly contagious to humans. Ron Fouchier, the Dutch scientist, created the virus in a lab and then infected ferrets, which transmit diseases to each other similar to the way humans do. (A ferret infected with the virus could cause another ferret housed in the same cage to get sick simply by being nearby.)

After an NBC News report last Thursday, the studies have gained some attention and controversy from others in the field who say that the published results could aid bioterrorists.

Posted in Research, Zoonoses/Shared Disease | Tagged , , , , , | Permalink

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