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1918 Flu Brought Back

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3318/02.html

I just watched a segment on Nova about a scientist who has brought back the 1918 Flu and is using it in experiments along with the Avian Flu to see if he can get the Avian Flu to pass from human to human! He claims it will be crutial information that will help prevent such spreading if the Avian Flu Virus ever manages to mutate on its own to be able to pass itself along from human to human.

You can watch the video above.

Sometimes I don't know what to think about science. I think many people are messing around with some very, very dangerous things and one day something is going to go horridly wrong.
post #2 of 17
It's just a matter of time, isn't it? The search for knowledge can be hazardous: gunpowder, then TNT, then the atomic bomb.
post #3 of 17
I think it's fantastic. He's not trying to actually get it to pass from human to human, he is trying to see the process by which H5N1 might start doing so-- information that may well save our lives someday.

Worst-case scenario is that a flu like that ones resurfaces and someone is infected by both at the same time. They've been saying for awhile now that the most probable way it would start passing from human to human is for it to 'join forces' with a flu virus somehow.
post #4 of 17
Science does scare me to a degree also. Granted its brought us a long way in understanding many things that plagued people for years. However sometimes I think scientists just have a "God" complex.

A part of me sits here and thinks that diseases and floods and hurricanes and such are all meant as a way to control nature. However we almost seem to be beating it and thus other things are surfacing (aids, avian flu, etc) in an attempt to circumvent what we can survive.

However in the next breath I think the playing God complex looks like fun and so would love to see what happens.
post #5 of 17
i agree something they should just throw away, like that. I remember reading that last year, or so.

the reason they have been calling for warning aganist small pox, and others is that several sample of them came up missing from a russian lab.

there is no reason to keep these type of things around once, they have been almost wiped out.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
The 1918 Flu was irradicated from what I understand. He recreated it through its genetic code.

What concerns me is that he brought back a virus that has no cure and that killed hundreds of thousands of people. And he's using that same virus to convert a virus that while it can jump the species from birds to humans, has not yet developed itself to jump from human to human.

He is creating a new kind of virus, one just as if not more deadly than the 1918 Flu.

Yes, on one hand he's using the information to gain an advantage in the hopes of being able to stop the virus from mutating on its own. However, such things can also be used in biological warfare if fallen into the wrong hands...or God forbid an accident in the lab should happen.

Don't get me wrong, I love science and it's a subject that I excell in. However I just think that recreating an irradicated virus, and giving another virus the advanced ability to jump from human to human when it currently can't, is asking for trouble.
post #7 of 17
Science doesn't scare me. Scientists' God complexes do though

I think that if this can help find a cure or vaccine for the Avian bird flu I really hope he gets support for it.
post #8 of 17
Didn't the 1918 Flu kill MILLIONS?
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ckblv View Post
Didn't the 1918 Flu kill MILLIONS?
Twenty to forty million: http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/ I think the usual figure quoted is 25 million. One of them was my paternal great-grandmother, who was just over thirty. She was a widow (her husband had been hit and killed by a trolley), and left two toddlers behind. Both boys were taken in by her brother, and my grandfather's brother was hit and killed by a train within the next two years.

Life is tenuous.
post #10 of 17
It sure is. Very tenuous.
post #11 of 17

When I was little, my dad watched NOVA alllll the time!! I hated it, but now that I'm an "intellectual" adult it really is a good show!
post #12 of 17
While there is a danger, there is so much benefit in being able to understand the virus. To understand the way it might have mutated and why it was so deadly to young healthy people will be very

My maternal great-grandmother died from the 1918 flu leaving a husband and two young children. My great-grandfather worked in the coal mines and couldn't really raise the children so they were left with families to work their farms. It was a very hard life for my grandfather as there was no such thing as child labor laws then.
post #13 of 17
A culture of the 1918 flu is kept at the CDC, in it's highest-level biocontainment lab. They keep cultures of major diseases, for research purposes and "just in case" a vaccine is ever needed.

The US Army also has a high-level biocontainment lab, for the same purposes, as well as developing antidotes, for possible bioweapons.
post #14 of 17
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong but I think that the 1918 Flu pandemic may be right behind The Black Death in terms of the number of people killed.
post #15 of 17
For both of the cases Bryan cited the number of people alive on the earth at the time was a whole lot less than now. If there's another epidemic and the same percentage of the population dies, the numbers would be mind-boggling.
post #16 of 17
How is it a God complex to try and prevent people from dying by the millions from an illness that could have been prevented by good hygeine?
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie_ca View Post
The 1918 Flu was irradicated from what I understand. He recreated it through its genetic code.

What concerns me is that he brought back a virus that has no cure and that killed hundreds of thousands of people. And he's using that same virus to convert a virus that while it can jump the species from birds to humans, has not yet developed itself to jump from human to human.

He is creating a new kind of virus, one just as if not more deadly than the 1918 Flu.

Yes, on one hand he's using the information to gain an advantage in the hopes of being able to stop the virus from mutating on its own. However, such things can also be used in biological warfare if fallen into the wrong hands...or God forbid an accident in the lab should happen.

Don't get me wrong, I love science and it's a subject that I excell in. However I just think that recreating an irradicated virus, and giving another virus the advanced ability to jump from human to human when it currently can't, is asking for trouble.
Very well said.
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