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The Risk of Engineering a Highly Transmissible H5N1 Virus

Thomas V. Inglesby, Anita Cicero, D. A. Henderson
Date posted:
December 16, 2011
Publication type:

Biosecur Bioterror 2012;10(1):151-152

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Open access
See also:

Full article on publisher's site: HTML • PDF


Over the past 8 years, H5N1 avian influenza has sickened 571 people, killing 59% of them. To give some perspective, the fatality rate of the virus that caused the 1918 Great Pandemic was 2%, and that pandemic killed on the order of 50 million people. Like all influenza strains, H5N1 is constantly evolving in nature. But thankfully, this deadly virus does not now spread readily through the air from person to person. If it evolves to become as transmissible as normal flu and results in a pandemic, it could cause billions of illnesses and deaths around the world—the proportion of the global population affected by past pandemics.



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