News of the WeekPandemic Influenza

Ferrets Shed Light on New Virus's Severity and Spread

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Science  03 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5936, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_17

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Two groups have infected ferrets with the new pandemic A(H1N1) influenza strain, and their papers, published online by Science this week, confirm what doctors around the world appear to be seeing: The new virus is a bit more pathogenic than seasonal influenza but nowhere near as dangerous as the 1918 pandemic virus or H5N1 avian influenza. The studies disagree, however, on how easily the virus spreads: One team concludes that it does so very well, but the other believes that it's only moderately adept at jumping from one animal to the next, or, for that matter, between humans.