A new study renews concerns that the H7N9 avian influenza virus that has killed 43 of 132 known patients in China could pose a serious pandemic threat. Chinese researchers report that one strain proved "highly transmissible" among ferrets. The species exhibits a similar response to influenza as humans and is considered a model for infection among people. "The findings suggest that only a few amino acid changes would be needed to make the avian H7N9 viruses highly transmissible," said virologist Chen Hualan.

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