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Swine Flu Outbreak Illuminated By Avian Flu Research

A new study by University of Maryland researchers suggests that the potential for an avian influenza virus to cause a human flu pandemic is greater than previously thought. Results also illustrate how the current swine flu outbreak likely came about.

As of now, avian flu viruses can infect humans who have contact with birds, but these viruses tend not to transmit easily between humans. However, in research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Associate Professor Daniel Perez from the University of Maryland showed that after reassortment with a human influenza virus, a process that usually takes place in intermediary species like pigs, an avian flu virus requires relatively few mutations to spread rapidly between mammals by respiratory droplets.
 
 

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