If this sounds a bit like something out of a horror novel, it’s because this sounds a lot like what starts the evens of the horror classic from Stephen King called The Stand. Apparently, researchers working on bird flu have created a strain of the bird flu virus that is lethal and easily spread through the air. Some fear that the mutated strain might be used as a bio weapon.
Researchers studying bird flu using ferrets have manufactured a strain of the bird flu virus known as H5N1 and over five mutations the researchers found a very virulent strain of the bug. All of the ferrets that had that fifth strain of the virus died. Ferrets are used in testing because viruses multiply in the animals in a way similar to humans.
The scientists have determined that it is possible for the virus to change into a form that can infect humans easily and the mutation to infect people is easier than they thought it would be. Even more disturbing is that while the scientists could create a strain of the virus that can infect humans, they say the same mutation could happen in a natural setting as well. Humans have been infected with bird flu and some have died already, but the virus isn’t spread easily between humans. The new research proves that may not always be the case.
[via ABC News]