The 1918 flu was the worst epidemic in American history, killing over 600,000. Some experts believe another killer influenza epidemic is overdue. The BBC reports on a recent flu study with serious implications:
Scientists have shown that tiny changes to modern flu viruses could render them as deadly as the 1918 strain which killed millions. A US team added two genes from a sample of the 1918 virus to a modern strain known to have no effect on mice.Killer flu recreated in the lab [BBC]
Animals exposed to this composite were dying within days of symptoms similar to those found in human victims of the 1918 pandemic.
The research is published in the journal Nature.
The work of the US team, lead by Dr Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, was carried out under the tightest security.
Gene from 1918 virus proves key to virulent influenza [innovations report]