Feeds

Mutant bird flu won't slay ferrets, people

Breathe easy, say boffins, as publish-and-perish controversy rages

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A mutated version of the bird flu virus(AKA H5N1) created in a lab cannot be transmitted aerially between ferrets and is unlikely to escape and threaten humans, says the scientist at the centre of an ethics controversy over the threat his research poses to public safety.

In late 2011 Dutch researcher Ron Fouchier was reported as having created a mutant version of bird flu that was lethal to ferrets and could be transmitted aerially - ferrets breathing on or near one another could spread the virus.

Early reports on the research sparked debate on just what Fouchier should be allowed to publish, given that the recipe for a lethal, aerially transmitted, virus is just the kind of thing nasty people might be interested in obtaining to tune as a weapon to be used against humans. Even accidental release of such a virus, it was argued, was so dire a risk that the US government asked the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to consider whether or not research on these mutant viruses should see the light of day.

The NSABB eventually recommend that any publication of the research should “… not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm.”

Fouchier this week revealed more details of his experiments at the ASM Biodefense conference where he said the virus has proved less lethal to ferrets than originally thought, and also difficult to transmit aerially.

He also used his time on a panel at the conference to show that the virus would likely not spread very far or fast should it escape a lab. Another piece of good news is that ferrets exposed to normal, everyday, seasonal influenza coped better with the mutant flu, again reducing its lethal potential.

®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.