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Monday, July 13, 2009

New Model for Flu Pandemics

Flu viruses that sparked the three worst pandemics in the last century circulated in their near-complete forms for years before the catastrophes occurred, researchers in Hong Kong and the United States have found.

The H1N1 virus that sparked the Spanish flu of 1918-1919 circulated in swine and humans well before the pandemic started, and it did not come directly from birds as previously thought, they added. Instead, it was probably generated by genetic exchanges between flu viruses from swine and humans.

This contrasts sharply with previous studies which suggested that the H1N1 virus of 1918 was a mutant that jumped direct from birds to human and ended up killing as many as 50 million people.

link: Experts unearth history of pandemic flu viruses | Science | Reuters


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