Imagine a virus that could infect — and jump to and from — birds or mammals that is always adapting and changing, so by the time researchers have an answer for one strain, it’s already changed forms.
The virus, of course, is influenza.
In an editorial in the Washington Post, the editorial board explores H7N9, the most recent strain of avian influenza (bird flu). The board writes:
“This variant, known as H7N9, has not reached U.S. shores, but it is a reminder of the unpredictable nature of influenza. It might cause a pandemic, or settle into a slow burn for years, or simply die out. At this stage, no one knows. The uncertainty ought to remind us of past lessons about infectious disease and globalization, which remain as urgent as ever.”