Tipping Point

A blog called Pathogen Alert makes a good observation on this week’s “accidental” release of the H2N2 flu virus:

We???ve been on the lookout for bioterror attacks, and Mother Nature, but we should be pointing cameras at the stupid judgment used by the laboratories who are supposed to keep these killer pathogens locked up.

Indeed. New Scientist last year mentioned the sudden reappearance of H1N1 in 1977, a virus that had dropped out of circulation for 27 years.

It is extremely unlikely that the virus could have circulated unaltered for 27 years. This has led some scientists to think it re-emerged from a laboratory freezer. A lab worker might have become infected. Another theory is that an incompletely inactivated batch of vaccine was to blame. H1 remains in circulation today.

Take note: H1 is the family of influenza virus that includes the 1918 Spanish flu. Will this sort of thing happen again?

I’d bet on it.


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