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US Getting Back Into Virus-Hunting Business

Stop Spillover to take over for Predict program, which was allowed to die right before the pandemic

(Newser) - For a decade, a US program spent hundreds of millions of dollars to train scientists in dozens of countries around the world to search for threatening new animal viruses. The initiative sussed out more than 1,000 new viruses over its life span, but the Trump administration let the program... More »

WHO on 'High Alert' Over Bird Flu

Worrying strains are spreading fast

(Newser) - The World Health Organization says it's on high alert over outbreaks of bird flu that have killed people in China and caused large-scale slaughtering of birds elsewhere. "The rapidly expanding geographical distribution of these outbreaks and the number of virus strains currently co-circulating have put WHO on high... More »

Scientists: Just 5 Mutations and Bird Flu Goes Airborne

But it's not known if those mutations could happen outside a lab

(Newser) - H5N1 has killed 60% of the 650 humans it's known to have infected in nearly two decades, making it an incredibly deadly but difficult to transmit virus. A new study tries to answer the question of how little it would take to make bird flu easily spreadable. The conclusion:... More »

Scientists: Time to Make Our Own Bird Flu

Call to study a strain perhaps more dangerous to humans

(Newser) - Concerns about the H7N9 bird flu virus are heating up, with a report this week detailing an apparent transmission of the disease between two people. Typically, humans are only infected by poultry, USA Today notes, but a study suggests a 60-year-old man who died after getting the disease gave it... More »

China Scrambles to Track Mystery Bird Flu

New outbreaks as officials fear H7N9 may have mutated

(Newser) - Four more people in coastal China are hospitalized with the new H7N9 strain of bird flu, China announced yesterday. H7N9 has already killed two people and left a third in critical condition; the four new patients, aged 32 to 83, are also critically ill, the New York Times reports. Chinese... More »

Scientists Revive Bird Flu Research Amid Contagion Fear

But US funding not quite ready

(Newser) - Bird flu experts decided to shut down their research last year over government concerns that samples could cause contagion outside the lab. Now, some 40 scientists—in countries which have set up research guidelines—are set to dive back into their investigations, they say. The US hasn't established its... More »

Bird Flu Jumps to Seals, Could Threaten Humans

Scientists studying new strain that moves from seal to seal

(Newser) - A new strain of bird flu you should be worried about? Maybe: In New England last fall, 162 harbor seal pups were killed by H3N8, a flu subtype that has crossed over from birds to dogs and horses in the past. Other strains of flu have previously crossed over from... More »

Study Made Bird Flu More Contagious

Report finally out, despite government terrorism fears

(Newser) - The journal Nature has published a controversial paper describing how University of Wisconsin scientists created an airborne strain of H5N1—aka "bird flu"—that was transmissible in mammals. A federal panel had asked Nature not to publish the study, and a similar one from a Dutch virologist, fearing... More »

Bird Flu Research OK to Publish

Scientific panel gives approval to papers on deadly virus

(Newser) - Some controversial research on bird flu is safe to publish after all, reports the New York Times . A panel of scientists yesterday reversed its December decision and concluded that two revised papers on the H5N1 virus were good to go. The board created controversy last year when it asked two... More »

Bird Flu Studies to Go Public Over Bioterror Fears

US warns of risk, but scientists say flu is bigger danger

(Newser) - Two months after leading science journals decided to self-censor articles about experiments to alter the bird flu virus and make it more dangerous, the WHO is recommending the journals publish the research after all, reports the New York Times . Well, publish it some time. The moratorium is in place for... More »

Bird Flu Study Shut Down Over Terrorism Fears

Scientists have already determined that it could go airborne

(Newser) - Researchers have temporarily shut down their investigations into a new, potentially devastating form of bird flu, giving in to widespread fear that terrorists might get their hands on the mutated virus. The researchers at Erasmus Medical College in the Netherlands have already determined that the strain, dubbed H5N1, is transmissible... More »

2 More Birds Found With Flu in Hong Kong

Concerns grow over H5N1 spread

(Newser) - Last month, two dead birds tested positive for the H5N1 virus, prompting Hong Kong authorities to kill some 20,000 more birds; now two more cases have been discovered. Two dead black-headed gulls—frequent winter visitors to the area and discovered separately—were found to have had the disease, fueling... More »

China Sees First Bird Flu Death in More Than a Year

Bus driver near Hong Kong dies

(Newser) - Let's hope it's an isolated case: A bus driver in southern China has died of the bird flu virus, the nation's first case in more than a year, reports Reuters . It's not clear how he contracted it: The 39-year-old apparently had no contact with poultry before... More »

UN: Bird Flu Is Back

Virus is on the rise after declining for years

(Newser) - Get ready for a possible resurgence of bird flu: The UN is warning that wild bird migrations have brought the deadly virus to formerly virus-free countries, and adds that a mutant strain of H5N1 is spreading in Asia. The mutant strain can get around the defenses of current vaccines, the... More »

Bird Flu Hits Hong Kong

Territory confirms first case since 2003

(Newser) - Bird flu is once again causing a flap in Hong Kong. A woman who recently traveled to mainland China has been diagnosed with the territory's first confirmed case of the disease since 2003, the BBC reports. She has been quarantined in intensive care, and Hong Kong's government has raised its... More »

Hong Kong Reports Bird Flu Outbreak

(Newser) - Three dead chickens tested positive for bird flu in Hong Kong, prompting the city to suspend poultry imports for 21 days and begin slaughtering tens of thousands of birds, an official said today. "We feel that Hong Kong is facing a new alert for bird flu," said the... More »

Pandemic Risk Real, Mounting

Experts fear spread of disease, entrenched in avian population, to humans

(Newser) - The danger of a worldwide bird flu epidemic is growing as the virus becomes established in the avian population, Reuters reports. World Health Organization experts today urged all nations to prepare in case the H5N1 virus mutates into a form easily transferable between humans. In birds, the strain has spread... More »

S. Korea Culls 3M Birds in Flu Fight

Nation on alert as troops sent in to slaughter poultry

(Newser) - South Korea has sent in soldiers to kill and bury birds as bird flu spreads rapidly throughout the country, Reuters reports. More than 3 million farm birds have been culled so far, but fresh cases continue to be reported and the disease is heading for the capital. The entire country... More »

Flu Shot May Help Fight Off Bird Flu: Study

Vaccinated patients more likely to have immune response to deadly H5N1 virus

(Newser) - A regular flu shot may offer at least some protection against the bird flu, a new study finds. Researchers tested the blood of 42 volunteers who'd recently gotten flu vaccines, exposing it to the deadly H5N1 avian flu, and found that in some of them, the immune system recognized the... More »

'US Ill Prepared for Disaster'

Study warns of inability to meet emergencies, funding cuts

(Newser) - The US is not prepared for major disasters, including biological attacks and pandemics, and funding to meet such emergencies is falling, according to a new study. Thirteen states don't have adequate plans to distribute vaccines, 12 states don't have systems to track the spread of diseases and 7 states are... More »

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