This Transgenic Mouse Is a Flu Pandemic Canary

Brights - Die Natur des Zweifels

Image: MOTHERBOARD

An early-warning system for the biological ‚big one.‘

By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD

It’s a disquieting thought: What lies between us and a civilization-shaking flu pandemic is something like luck. Flu strains evolve and change, becoming more or less lethal yearly. The swine flu pandemic of 2009 is one recent example. That outbreak killed at least 18,000—far less in total than claimed by common seasonal flu strains, but with a far shorter reach. Swine flu was particularly anxiety-inducing for its talent for killing the young and healthy.

The 2009 swine flu was a new strain related to the flu behind the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people. Its newness meant that it could evade existing flu vaccines. That flu evolves is what makes it frightening. The virus that for most of us means a few days of Netflix and ginger ale could mean far more dire…

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