Has Bird Flu Opened Bioterror Box? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Has Bird Flu Opened Bioterror Box?

USATODAY.COM - It was a public health nightmare: A deadly flu bug spread like wildfire around the world, killing tens of millions of people.

That was nearly a century ago. Fears that the nightmare could return today — perhaps with even more terrifying consequences — have set off a heated debate among scientists and, for the first time, delayed the publication of scientific flu research in two professional journals.

The object of those fears: a threatening new version of the bird flu virus that didn't emerge from nature but was born out of experiments in a lab.

Researchers in the Netherlands and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who were trying to determine what genes might mutate and make bird flu attack humans, created a strain that can pass easily among ferrets.

Why should we care that ferrets get the bird flu?  Ferrets are the closest lab animal models to humans for flu vaccine studies. Until now, cases of bird flu passing from infected birds to humans were limited to people — farmworkers usually — who worked closely with the birds. And bird flu almost never passes from person to person.

So creation of a bird flu strain easily transmissible between mammals poses frightening scenarios: What if the strain escaped from the lab and spread among humans? David Nabarro, a World Health Organization expert, estimated that such a pandemic could kill 20 million to 150 million people worldwide.

What if terrorists intent on doing harm learned enough from the published scientific work to reproduce the strain on their own? They could release it to start a pandemic.

The federal National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) reviewed the work, and last month, it requested for the first time ever that two prominent scientific journals, Science and Nature, withhold from the public details of the two potentially dangerous bird flu studies.

Journal editors, sensitive to the security issues, have delayed publication of the studies.

"We have to protect the public by making sure the critical information doesn't get into the hands of those who might misuse it," says Science editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts.

On the other hand, he says, "this knowledge could be essential for speeding the development of new treatments to combat this lethal form of influenza."

Last week, leaders of the two labs involved announced a two-month halt to research on bird flu viruses engineered to pass among mammals, citing "perceived fears" that the microbes may escape from the lab. They called for the World Health Organization to discuss the risks and benefits of their research. click here to read the full story 

 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Good Samaritan uses tourniquet to help save hit-and-run victim in north Spokane

    Good Samaritan uses tourniquet to help save hit-and-run victim in north Spokane

    Wednesday, September 26 2018 2:31 AM EDT2018-09-26 06:31:33 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane security guard never thought he'd have to use a tourniquet, but he still carries it with him just about everywhere he goes. "You never know when you're going to come across something where you could be the guy to help because you know what to do," said John Roach. " I wanted to help the guy and I was able to." Roach was driving on Market Street in north Spokane when he came across the aftermath of a hit-and-run. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane security guard never thought he'd have to use a tourniquet, but he still carries it with him just about everywhere he goes. "You never know when you're going to come across something where you could be the guy to help because you know what to do," said John Roach. " I wanted to help the guy and I was able to." Roach was driving on Market Street in north Spokane when he came across the aftermath of a hit-and-run. 

    >>
  • Trump administration rolls back oil train braking safety rule

    Trump administration rolls back oil train braking safety rule

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 6:44 PM EDT2018-09-25 22:44:54 GMT
    Gov. Jay Inslee wants federal regulators to issue an emergency order requiring safety inspectors to physically walk the rail lines in the hours before Bakken crude oil is transported.Gov. Jay Inslee wants federal regulators to issue an emergency order requiring safety inspectors to physically walk the rail lines in the hours before Bakken crude oil is transported.

    WASHINGTON - Trains that carry oil and other flammable materials near communities won't have to install electronically controlled braking systems to reduce risk of derailments and explosions after the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era safety rule on Monday. In a post on its website, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration argued that the cost of installing the new brakes outweighs the benefit.

    >>

    WASHINGTON - Trains that carry oil and other flammable materials near communities won't have to install electronically controlled braking systems to reduce risk of derailments and explosions after the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era safety rule on Monday. In a post on its website, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration argued that the cost of installing the new brakes outweighs the benefit.

    >>
  • Teacher fired after refusing to abide by ‘No zero' policy when students didn't hand in work

    Teacher fired after refusing to abide by ‘No zero' policy when students didn't hand in work

    Tuesday, September 25 2018 12:35 PM EDT2018-09-25 16:35:46 GMT

    A Florida history teacher says she was fired for refusing to give half-credit to students who didn't turn in their assignments.    Diane Tirado says her school along Florida's Treasure Coast had a "no zero" policy, requiring teachers to give students no less than a 50-percent grade on assignments.    

    >>

    A Florida history teacher says she was fired for refusing to give half-credit to students who didn't turn in their assignments.    Diane Tirado says her school along Florida's Treasure Coast had a "no zero" policy, requiring teachers to give students no less than a 50-percent grade on assignments.    

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/