Research on deadly flu to be published

Feb. 18, 2012 at 9:56 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Medical experts have decided that research on a lethal influenza strain should be published in spite of worries that terrorists could use the information.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that 22 experts meeting Thursday and Friday in Geneva decided the danger of a natural epidemic is greater than one created by terrorists. The meeting was organized by the World Health Organization.

"The group consensus was that it was much more important to get this information to scientists in an easy way to allow them to work on the problem for the good of public health," Fauci said. "It was not unanimous, but a very strong consensus."

The flu strain in question is a modified form of the H5N1 strain known as bird flu. That strain has high mortality in people but does not spread easily from person to person, reducing its dangerousness.

In 1918, a less virulent but highly contagious strain of flu killed 50 million people around the world.

Research at the University of Wisconsin and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands was suspended because of the uproar over the virus. The work was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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