News and CommentInfectious Disease

The Flu Pandemic That Might Have Been

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Science  12 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5332, pp. 1600-1601
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5332.1600

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This summer, a flu strain unlike any that has infected humans before appears to have jumped directly from birds to a human, killing a Hong Kong boy. The event rang alarm bells around the world, as public health experts feared that the virus might touch off a pandemic, because nobody would have immunity to this new strain. On 20 August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta dispatched researchers to Hong Kong to join an international team of scientists conducting an "extensive investigation" there and in mainland China.