News was barely sinking in (previous post) that controversial laboratory modification of H5N1, or bird flu virus, to make it more contagious ought to have the details published. Now news has broken in the last few days that an extended clamp-down on such work is still in play. Many had expected the voluntary suspension of such work, imposed while publication of previous work was in doubt, to be lifted. The re-think, it appears, may stem in part from discovery that already and by itself a different flu virus, H3N8, has developed a variant that jumped from birds and is now infecting seals along New England's shore. Some of its 38 known mutations, say researchers, seem to make it more suitable for mammals. It has killed many of the afflicted seals, especially pups.
Reporters watching events unfold at the annual meeting, in New York, of the Centers of Excellent for Influenza Research and Surveillance, scrambled to keep up with rumors and other events among insiders.
Stories on Moratorium:
- NPR (SHOTS blog) Nell Greenfieldboyce: NIH Official Calls For Extension Of Moratorium on Bird Flu Experiments ; The official is Tony Fauci, NIAID director at the NIH. GReenfieldboyce set the scene with this earlier post: What does the future hold for bird flu research?
- Nature Newsblog - Brendan Maher: NIAID director urges continuation of H5N1 research moratorium ;
- Canadian Press - Helen Branswell: As key flu scientists meet, question looms: When will bird flu studies resume?
- ScienceNOW (ScienceInsider) Eli Kintisch, David Malakoff: US Infectious Diesease Chief Urges Flu Scientists to 'Engage,' Support H5N1 Research Moratorium ;
Stories on Bird Flu in Seals:
- NYTimes - Carl Zimmer: Flu That Leapt From Birds to Seals Is Studied for Human Threat;
- Smithsonian SmartNews blog - Rachel Nuwer: Why You Shouldn't Panic Over The Latest News About Bird Flu ;
- Time Mag Healthland blog - Alexandra Sifferlin: A Bird Flu Spreads in Seals. Could Humans Be Next? ;
- CBS News Healthpop blog - Ryan Jaslow: Bird flu blamed for deaths of New England seals: Can H3N8 strain spread to humans? ; Here's how one should do it when relying on a press release's quotes. Say so. Looks like Jaslow also got in contact directly with several of his sources.
- Charlie Petit