RealNews

The Flu Factor In Bioterrorism

The very mention of the words anthrax or smallpox can immediately summon the specter of bioterror. Rarely, though, does mention of the influenza virus inspire thoughts of a weapon of mass destruction. Scientists at Stanford University, however, theorize that not only could the virus be used for malicious intent, but the pathogen’s natural ability for rapid mutation and spread might make it an ideal weapon of terror. Already scientists are nearing completion on replicating the genetic sequence of the virus that caused the horrific 1918 influenza pandemic. With such knowledge in the wrong hands, experts say, influenza could prove more deadly than anthrax, smallpox or even bubonic plague. To study how such terrorism might occur – and be thwarted through a new generation of vaccines – a team of Stanford researchers has received a $15-million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The upcoming study is part of an $85-million project overseen by the institute to investigate microbial agents that could, under certain circumstances, be transmuted into weapons of terror. Full Story

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