The World Health Organization announced on Friday that details of the recent genetic research that resulted in more contagious bird flu strains would be released to the general public over the next few months.  The decision, made by leading bird flu and public health experts who met in Geneva last week, was against the objections of the United States.  Opposition from US officials was based on the fear that releasing the information would do little to advance the cause of bird flu research, while giving ammunition to terrorists who could use it to promulgate a worldwide epidemic.

Indeed, although the bird flu in its current, genetically unaltered form does not spread easily from infected birds to humans, it remains one of the most deadly viruses on record.  Almost one half of those who get the infection will die.  The Geneva group cited free exchange of information as the reason for releasing the data, suggesting that holding such information back would set a dangerous precedent in the scientific community.


About The Author

Frank Gillingham, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Director for HTH Worldwide. Frank has led HTH Worldwide's international business development efforts in Europe and Canada and has been a guest speaker at international business conferences and has authored a series of articles on travel medicine, including pieces on travel information available on the Internet and the role of physicians working with travel insurers. Frank is a Board-Certified Internist and Emergency Medicine Specialist. He is also a private emergency physician in Southern California and a former emergency department director and member of the UCLA emergency department staff. Frank completed residency training at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, received his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania .

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