Deadly virus samples missing in Mexico/Lebanon

NB This story has also been covered in the article Killer virus sent worldwide. There have NOT been two incidents.Saturday, April 16, 2005

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a statement issued Tuesday, urged scientists to destroy samples of a deadly flu virus that could potentially cause a global pandemic.

Shipments of the influenza virus sent to Mexico and Lebanon are unaccounted for. The U.N. health organization said 10 countries receiving samples already destroyed them, while 5 more countries are in the process of doing so.

The virus, A/H2N2, was detected by a Canadian lab which contacted the Public Health Agency of Canada, who in turn warned the WHO and other national health agencies on March 26.

Meridian Bioscience sent routine testing kits infected with the virus to almost 5,000 laboratories, of which 3747 in 18 countries have so far been identified as having the virus, most of them in North America.

The virus is a variant of the H2N2 virus which caused the 1957 Asian Flu Pandemic, but which was displaced by the H3N2 variant. People born after 1959 are unlikely to be immune to the virus.