Mutant flu 'will kill 50 million'
UK Sun | November 16, 2006
BIRD flu is mutating into a human virus which could kill 50 MILLION people, scientists warned last night.
The terrifying discovery means that medics' worst fears have been realised.
And Department of Health chiefs say an outbreak could kill at least 300,000 Brits mainly kids, mums-to-be and the elderly.
Expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka said: We are watching this virus turn itself into a human pathogen.
Bird flu has already killed 150 people in South East Asia and Turkey. They caught the disease from direct contact with birds.
But Dr Kawaoka found that the virus is moving towards being able to jump between species.
It is preparing to mix with another flu strain, which would enable it to move from human to human. It does this by swapping genes between other strains.
His US-based team has analysed the virus since it was identified in 1997. Their research helps to develop anti-viral drugs which reduce symptoms of the bug.
Dr Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, stressed that more mutations were required for the virus to fully adapt to humans. The research was published in the scientific journal Nature.
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