3Qs: What to Know About the New Bird Flu Virus
May 13, 2013
Earlier this month, the U.S. government declared that the emerging H7N9 bird flu “poses a significant potential for a public health emergency.” The virus, a relative of other bird flus we’ve seen previously like H1N1 and H5N1, originated in China and results in a severe respiratory infection and, in some cases, death. While the virus is not, at this time, transmissible between humans, researchers believe that just a few genetic mutations could change that. Network scientist Alessandro Vespignani, the Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor of physics, computer science, and health sciences, is mapping the disease’s progression in his lab. We asked him to discuss the pandemic potential of the virus and explain how this strain differs from those in the past.