An influenza virus—especially one genetically manipulated for increased virulence—would be an attractive weapon for bioterrorists, according to physicians writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
As a potential biological weapon, influenza has several advantages over smallpox, including ready accessibility, write Mohammad Madjid, MD, and three colleagues. The authors are affiliated with the University of Texas–Houston Health Center and two heart institutes in Houston.
“The possibility for genetic engineering and aerosol transmission suggests an enormous potential for bioterrorism,” they assert.
The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 killed between 20 million and 40 million people. The “usual estimate” of the annual influenza death toll in the United States is 20,000, but recent studies of all-cause mortality suggest it is closer to 90,000, the authors state. They also cite recent evidence that influenza may be a risk factor for sudden cardiac death and stroke.
Source: News To Me