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Scientists contracted by the US Government have effectively developed a faster spreading bird flu strain in two laboratories. In anticipation of the natural occurrence, labs in the Netherlands and Wisconsin have been able to create and test a more effective H5N1 virus. According to the contract, the formulas produced will remain confidential and the strains are locked safely in secure facilities.
The bird flu has become more prevalent in recent years and though infections have been fairly well contained, the virus carries a 60% mortality rate. Most cases originate in areas of Southeast Asia, and are known to have affected at least 600 people in the last decade.
US Government officials were concerned that a faster spreading bird flu would naturally occur posing a significant threat of pandemic. The funding came from the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who advised the research but also warned of the risk if this recipe were to escape. Not only is it suggested that a faster virus would evolve, but there is also a significant concern regarding development of H5N1 by bioterrorists.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the NIH, states that the directive to create a faster spreading bird flu is essential because "nature is the worst bioterrorist." In order to ensure the development of vaccines and drugs to counter the effects, this research will be made available to labs and drug companies around the world.
The US Government, scientists, and public health officials encourage awareness and preparedness for the occurrence of a faster spreading bird flu. Citizens around the world should still take caution to protect themselves against contamination.