The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, concerned about bioterrorism and a worldwide pandemic, has for the first time ever urged scientific journals to keep details out of reports that they intend to publish on a highly transmissible form of the bird flu called A(H5N1), which has a high death rate in people. Working with ferrets, researchers on the virus at two medical centers — Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison — are investigating genetic changes that may make the virus more easily transmittable to people. Doreen Carvajal spoke with Ron A. M. Fouchier, the lead researcher at the Erasmus Center. An edited and condensed version of the conversation follows.
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