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H5N1 Lessons Learned
>>Crawford said that pandemic flu is an "ever-looming threat," and that, although that virus has not yet "learned" to spread from person to person, it may in the future.<<
H5N1 has already "learned" quite a bit. It can generate a case mortality rate in the 70% range and can also grow to high titers in ducks without making them visibly ill. It has already learned how to move pieces of its genes into the most prevalent serotype, H9N2, further increasing the number of dual infections.
These dual infections lead to more recombination, and swapping out a piece of the HA gene to gain human to human transmission is not a difficult task, as long as the number of dual infections continue to increase.
I suspect that in the next few months, we will see what kind of lessons have been learned by the 2004/2005 version of H5N1.