FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

"Asian Flu" Strain Mistakenly Released

The virus that caused the 1957 "Asian flu" pandemic was accidentally released to 3,700 labs worldwide from a lab in the US. The virus samples were included in testing kits between October 2004 and this past February.

Scientists are now scrambling to find and destroy these virus samples before they possibly escape and spread. Already, some of the virus samples in Canada have already escaped, though no infections have been reported so far.

There is precedent for a flu strain escaping the lab and infecting the general population (it occurred in Russia in 1977, though that strain was comparatively benign).

As a result of this release, scientists are calling for a "major reassessment" of the safe handling of deadly pathogens.

Source: New Scientist