Via the Daily Mail Online: Bird Flu could soon be passed from human to human, warns Cambridge professor. Excerpt and then a comment:
The deadly bird flu virus is only two or three mutations away from being infectious between humans, an expert warned yesterday.
Such a virus would have a ‘devastating’ impact on the world’s population, similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic which killed around 50 million people.
In its current form, avian flu can only be transmitted between birds and from birds to humans. But Professor Derek Smith, of Cambridge University, said studies showed it only needed five amino acid mutations – which happen naturally when the virus evolves – to become transmittable between people. Scientists have discovered two of these mutations are already common and a third has been seen in some parts of the world – meaning it would take just two more.
Speaking at the Hay Festival yesterday, Professor Smith said ‘it is within the realms of possibility to get three mutations’ and it was something the international community should ‘worry about’.
He warned governments should prepare for a pandemic the same way they would a terrorist attack, adding security experts consider it is ‘more likely’ to happen.
I avoided posting about this report precisely because it comes from the Daily Mail—not a medical journal of much repute—and it's all too typical of the scare story in which an "expert" turns out the light, puts a glowing flashlight under his chin and starts moaning "Woooooould...cooooould....miiiiight...."