Mild Winter May Be Keeping Flu Bugs At Bay

Flu season usually peaks around February. But this year it’s missing in action, with the CDC reporting the slowest start to the flu season on record. Peter Palese, a microbiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, discusses whether unseasonably warm winter weather may be to thank.

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Questions About Bird Flu Research Swirl Around Private WHO Meeting

A small group has gathered at the World Health Organization in Geneva to discuss a controversy over bird flu experiments. After the meeting, which ends today, the WHO will announce what happened behind closed doors.

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Questions About Bird Flu Research Swirl Around Private WHO Meeting

A small group has gathered at the World Health Organization in Geneva to discuss a controversy over experiments that generated genetically altered viruses. After the meeting, which ends Friday, the WHO will announce what happened behind closed doors.

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The ‘WHO’s Who’ Of Virologists Meet To Talk Bird Flu In Geneva

The highly-anticipated gathering of flu experts has been described as a fact-finding session that will focus on understanding how bird flu studies done at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and at the University of Wisconsin were performed and overseen by the relevant authorities.

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Scientists Debate How To Conduct Bird Flu Research

Scientists working with bird flu recently called a 60-day halt on some controversial experiments. The unusual move has been compared to a famous moratorium on genetic engineering in the 1970s. Key scientists involved in that pause on genetic research disagree on whether today’s furor over bird flu is history repeating itself.

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Critics Call For Transparency Of Bird Flu Research

Controversial experiments on bird flu have split the scientific community. Scientists recently took a bird flu virus and altered its genes and now it can spread through the air between lab animals. When word got out, there was an uproar and critics fear that if this virus ever escapes the lab, it could cause a devastating pandemic in people. It’s all led to an “Asilomar-type moment.” Asilomar refers to a famous event in the early days of genetic engineering, when scientists put a voluntary moratorium on their work and held a meeting in 1975 to discuss the potential risks of the research and how to control them. Key scientists who organized that historic meeting say there are lessons that might hold for today’s furor over bird flu.

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When Flu Pandemics Hit, Closing Schools Can Slow Spread

When schools in Alberta, Canada, closed for summer in 2009, it put the breaks on the swine flu outbreak in the province, says research from McMaster University. But authorities have to weigh the costs and benefits of preemptive closure, and there isn’t always a clear answer.

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When Flu Pandemics Hit, Closing Schools Can Slow Spread

When schools in Alberta, Canada, closed for summer in 2009, it put the breaks on the swine flu outbreak in the province, says research from McMaster University. But authorities have to weigh the costs and benefits of preemptive closure, and there isn’t always a clear answer.

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International Meeting On Controversial Bird Flu Research Draws Near

The scientists, journal editors and others who attend are expected to review the facts and the most pressing issues related to this specific work, rather than have a broader discussion about the possibility of international oversight of potentially worrisome biological research.

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Researchers Agree To Temporary Halt For Bird Flu Experiments

Scientists working with a highly contagious, lab-created strain of bird flu will suspend their research for 60 days. The pause will make possible an international debate on the merits of the work, they say.

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Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies

A federal advisory board has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne flu virus. Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello discusses why the move sets a bad precedent. Biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson talks about the risks of publishing the research.

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Bird Flu Research Rattles Bioterrorism Field

At a recent conference, a Dutch scientist said he’d made bird flu virus highly contagious between ferrets — the animal model used to study human flu infection. Just five mutations did the trick. Security experts fear publishing the work could spur development of new weapons.

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Scientists Worry About Impact Of Bird Flu Experimen

Scientists are worried about the deadly bird flu called H5N1 which sometimes infects people. It’s never acquired the ability to transmit easily between humans, but researchers would like to know if that could happen. Recently, they’ve essentially been altering the genes of H5N1 to make the virus spread more easily between lab animals — raising concerns about biosafety and how this research is regulated.

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Analysis Questions Flu Shot Effectiveness

A new report in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases says evidence that the flu shot offers protection in adults aged 65 years or older is lacking. Host John Dankosky and guests discuss the report, the upcoming flu season, and whether seniors should get the flu vaccine.

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