Bird Flu Alarm



Understanding Avian Influenza

Many viruses mutate all the time

Many viruses mutate all the time


Many viruses are unstable and change all the time. Every time a new person or animal is infected, there is a chance of another mutation. Viruses also combine in unpredictable ways if a cell is infected with more than one virus type. The cell becomes confused about which virus it is making, and elements of both viruses get muddled up to create a new hybrid.

Take the example of a farmer who gets human flu, and at the same time has caught a virus from one of his animals which is going to kill him. It could be that the animal virus can only pass between animals, or from an animal to a human - and it might not be very infectious, so the infection will probably die out when he dies. But inside the farmer's body it is possible that the virus might mutate into one which is as infectious as human flu, and as lethal as the animal virus.