Sunday, March 4, 2012

H5N1 GIFT

The latest update on the genetically modified H5N1 virus was released a few days ago with the original research team claiming that the virus was not as contagious or as infectious as the media portrayed it- new data has prompted for a re-evaluation of the government's recommendation to not reveal specific steps involved in the project.

These new recommendations were submitted to the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which will convene in March. The head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci stated that " THere is a gross, pervasive misunderstanding out there," and the danger of this genetically modified virus may have been overstated.

Dr. Fouchier, the head of the research team that undertook this modification, was able to reveal a few of the research's results this past week at a convention for the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Fouchier stated that the mutated H5N1 virus was not as lethal as the media claimed- not all of the healthy ferrets that were exposed to the virus contracted the infection, and those that did become infected did not necessarily show symptoms or die. In addition to this, the healthy ferrets that had been exposed to the seasonal flu prior to the H5N1 infection gained immunity to the mutated H5N1 virus.

Genetically modified flu viruses are a definite threat to public health if used as a bioterrorist weapon.

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity re-evaluation will be covered here in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned :)

-Angela Cesena

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/science/maker-says-bird-flu-virus-not-as-dangerous-as-thought.html?_r=1&ref=health

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