A second study on bird flu that was considered dangerous for publication was released recently following earlier requests by federal officials that the details will not be published since the genetic mutations that are used in making the strains were identified. The officials caution at the possibility that terrorists will be able to gain the knowledge in creating a biological weapon.
This resulted to numerous discussions among scientists, a number of whom have indicated that the release of the results is necessary to be able to cope with the risk of the virus.
Although bird flu has affected poultry within Asia for a number of years and is considered dangerous for humans, it only infects people who have direct contact with the infected poultry. However scientists were concerned on the possible mutations that will allow it to easily spread among humans, which will have disastrous results.
Revised versions of the studies were later submitted by the researchers which showed the importance of the results to public health instead of the details of the study. The bio-security panel that advised federal officials supported the publishing of the revised versions since sharing data will facilitate the fight against the virus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that the benefits of sharing data outweigh the risk connected to it. The first paper was published last month while the second one was only published recently.
The two papers evaluated the possibility of spreading airborne modified bird viruses among ferrets, which did not die from the infections while the second reported that five particular mutations will allow the virus to spread in this manner. Two of the mutations were found in some virus strains while the remaining three may emerge when people or mammals are infected.
The results on the ferret studies did not give any conclusions on how deadly the modified virus will be for humans. The studies represent the first experimental evidence that the bird flu virus may possibly spread easily among humans if it mutates according to Eddy Holmes from the Penn State University.