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Volume 27, Issue 3

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May 10, 2013

A more transparent battle with bird flu

IN A STRANGE TWIST of evolution, the influenza virus seems to have endless capability to reinvent itself, infecting waterfowl, swine and humans over and over again with great power and destructive force. A periodic reassortment of its genes gives rise to new variants that have not been seen before. Each time, the new variant poses a potential threat to both man and animal. Another shuffle of the deck has just occurred, leading to a new outbreak of bird flu in China, where people and fowl are often in close contact.

This variant, known as H7N9, has not reached U.S. shores, but it is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of influenza. It might cause a pandemic, or settle into a slow burn for years, or simply die out. At this stage, no one knows. The uncertainty ought to remind us of past lessons about infectious disease and globalization, which remain as urgent as ever.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-more-transparent-battle-with-bird-flu/2013/05/08/5ed18bee-b6c4-11e2-b94c-b684dda07add_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines