Flu Virus Can Mutate Rapidly

Posted on July 26, 2005

The flu virus has always been known for its ability to mutate but scientists have discovered that the flu virus can mutate even more rapidly than originally thought -- which raises new concerns about the emerging bird flu problem in Southeast asia. A BBC article says scientists used to believe that the "gene swapping progressed gradually from season to season."

However, researchers from The National Institutes of Health team found influenza A can exchange several genes at a time. This can cause rapid major changes in the influenza virus. This means some flu strains may suddenly develop that are make people sicker and are harder to treat.

Scientists with the World Health Organization and local disease experts in various countries have been working together to try and prevent a deadly bird virus from spreading to humans where it could mutate and then spread rapidly from human to human. Scientists are concerned that bird flu could killed tens of millions of people if the flu gains the ability to spread quickly among human hosts.

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