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Flu Pandemics May Lurk in Frozen Lakes

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The next flu pandemic may be hibernating in an Arctic glacier or frozen Siberian lake, waiting for rising temperatures to set it free. Then birds can deliver it back to civilization.

New research suggests an influenza virus could go into hiding in the ice when earlier generations of humans, birds or other hosts developed immunity strong enough to drive the virus to extinction. It’s a sort of evolutionary loophole.

“It can bring a set of viral genes back to life that have been frozen for centuries or thousands of years,” said environmental biologist Scott Rogers of Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “If hosts haven’t seen the virus in a while, then there may be no active immunity.”
 
 

Comments (1)

  1. H1N1 on the rocks! We know that H1N1 is nothing new, in fact it's been around since 1918 and scientists say this might be the reason the current incarnation of the virus hasn't hit as hard as they once feared it would. Now we learn that the virus can be trapped under ice (insert Metallica music here) and perhaps be delivered back to humans via birds once thawed. This gives a whole new perspective on the importance of global warming and perhaps a whole new marketing campaign for the dangers of melting polar ice caps.

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