Forget anthrax and smallpox, influenza could easily be turned into the next weapon of mass destruction, scientists said today.Posted by Ithildin at July 3, 2003 5:07 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE
They sounded their warning as researchers come close to completing the blueprint for the virus of the 1918 'flu epidemic that killed up to 40 million people globally.
"Taken together with the fact that influenza virus is readily accessible and may be causing more deaths than previously suspected, the possibility for genetic engineering and aerosol transmission suggests an enormous potential for bioterrorism," the University of Texas scientists said.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the team led by Dr Mohammed Madjid noted that last century a series of 'flu epidemics from Spain to Russia and Hong Kong had killed millions of people as the virus naturally mutated.
They pointed out that sequencing of the genome of the 1918 Spanish 'flu epidemic was nearly complete, opening the door to unscrupulous scientists to build an even more potent virus.