RESOURCES: The Encyclopedia Influenzae

Science  10 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5766, pp. 1353
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5766.1353b

A solid source of information about the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus and its potential to trigger a human pandemic is the Flu Wiki, a user-written collaboration in the spirit of Wikipedia. A primer dissects the influenza virus and follows it into the body to see how it damages the respiratory system. Other pages discuss the limitations of antiflu drugs such as Tamiflu and theorize about what deadly traits the 1918 flu strain and H5N1 share. These viruses might unleash a flood of immune system messengers termed a cytokine storm. Visitors can scan different countries' pandemic influenza plans. The site also links to resources on the flu's possible economic, legal, and ethical implications. For example, a recent white paper estimates that even a mild pandemic would cut the world's economic output by $330 billion and kill 1.4 million people.

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