After nine years of effort, in a top secret program, scientists have recreated the deadly 1918 Spanish flu virus, which caused one of the biggest pandemics in human history. The virus is stockpiled in a government laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite the danger, the DNA sequence of this flu is now available to scientists over the internet.
Ian Sample writes in The Guardian that when the recreated virus was injected into mice by researcher Jeffery Taubenberger, they all died within six days. When mice were injected with another flu virus, they recovered.
Researchers want to recreate the Spanish Flu to find out exactly what made it so lethal. This may help them fight the upcoming bird flu epidemic. Experts are currently divided about how dangerous this will be.
As with anthrax, there are people who are worried that the virus will escape?or be stolen?from the laboratories that are working on it and used as a terrorist weapon. Whether it would actually be one or not depends upon the state of our immune systems. It could be that, like the Black Death, most human immune systems have inherited the ability to fight off this disease, but that is still unknown.
It has been discovered that the few people who somehow contract HIV, but live with it for many years without getting AIDS, have ancestors who contracted the Plague and lived, and passed down the genes for this immunity to them. This form of evolution has only recently been discovered by scientists who study disease.
Could flu virus be stolen, the way anthrax was, as some sort of a terrible conspiracy? Conspiracies are nothing new?tune into this week’s Dreamland and learn about the Virgin Mary Conspiracy?as old as the hills but as new as tomorrow.
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