A COMMUNICABLE COMPROMISE: scientists reluctantly agree to delay Armageddon for sixty days

Whew.  We’ve been granted a respite.

On Friday, researchers from Erasmus Medical College in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the University of Wisconsin – Madison agreed to a sixty day moratorium on research involving a highly contagious strain of bird flu.  The voluntary agreement was published in Nature and Science, two prominent scientific journals.

The research involved earlier experimentation that created a new, fatal strain of the H5N1 bird flu.  The critical component of the new strain is its communicability: research has shown that is capable of being transmitted from one ferret to another ferret.  The animals are considered fairly reliable indicators of the behavior of influenza viruses in human communities, which means that this newly engineered strain of H5N1 may be capable of being transmitted from one human to another human.

The experimentation sparked immediate concern among the scientific community and world governments.  Many responses focused on the possibility that the new strain could escape from the confines of the laboratory, spread among the world’s population and kill upwards of tens of millions of people.  At least a handful of prominent scientists claimed that the research should never have been conducted and that the risks outweighed any potential benefit that could be derived from the work.

In an uncanny coincidence, two days after researchers declared the moratorium, China announced that a 39-year old man who had no contact with poultry died from the bird flu.  The report of the death came just one week after separate deaths from bird flu were reported in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

Pretty eerie timing… almost too eerie.  It’s really hard to pass up this opportunity to try to make a tongue-in-cheek comment about coincidences, conspiracy theories and the frightening possibility that the influenza virus has already escaped the laboratories.

But I won’t.  Not this time.  Not ever again.  I promise.

Instead, I’ll simply close by very, very, very carefully noting that the media is now reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is actively monitoring blogs that  cover the avian flu.

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One response to “A COMMUNICABLE COMPROMISE: scientists reluctantly agree to delay Armageddon for sixty days

  1. Vladislav November 21, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Chicken soup will help with bird flu can’t hurt for anything else. Pork chops won’t help with swine fu. Whatever your posoin it needs to involve lots of liquids, and I certainly wish you a very speedy recovery. Be well!Support this comment 0

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