ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Avian flu. Computer artwork of influenza A virus particles. The internal genetic material (coils) is shown, along with the membrane coating and the proteins (spikes) that allow the virus to attach to a host cell. This is strain H5N1, which usually infects poultry, but began infecting humans in Hong Kong in 1997. Direct bird-human contact is necessary for transmission of the disease. However, the emergence of potent new strains happened when strains from different animals exchanged genetic information. Such new strains threaten epidemics that would kill millions.
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