Thursday, September 19, 2013

How Far Are We From a Super-Pandemic?


Fall is flu season and this year, as usual, federal health officials are asking the public to get their annual flu vaccine shot.

But scientists say there are much more deadly bugs lurking out there that could someday make the jump from local outbreak to a worldwide super pandemic that could wipe out people across the globe. All it takes is a few biological tricks for a microscopic virus to turn into a raging killer like the 1918 Spanish flu virus that killed 50 to 100 million people, or the SARS virus that started in China in 2003 and spread to 37 countries in just a few weeks. It eventually killed fewer than 800 people.

This year, two contagions that are scaring epidemiologists the most are another Asian virus called H7N9, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome. Both appeared in 2012.


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