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Medical News and Perspectives
November 16, 2005

1918 Killer Flu Virus Reconstructed, May Help Prevent Future Outbreaks

JAMA. 2005;294(19):2416-2419. doi:10.1001/jama.294.19.2416

Two teams of federal and university scientists have pieced together the genetic sequence of the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic and reconstructed the deadly pathogen.

The researchers report that the data and the live virus provide information that may be used to counter future flu outbreaks. However, the accomplishment has prompted some to worry that resurrecting the virus that infected 20% of the worldwide population and killed up to one out of every 40 people 87 years ago carries the risk of a repeat pandemic if the virus were accidentally released or fell into the hands of terrorists.

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