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How Do Viruses Move from Animals to People?

Virulent diseases sometimes originate in birds or animals, then move to people where they can mutate and cause further difficulties.

In America, the first cases of Spanish Flu are believed to have originated with swine in Kansas. Nearly a century later, experts are still not certain how that happened.

There is a possible explanation, or a possible coincidence. People started getting sick at Ft. Riley soon after a significant wind storm carried the ashes of burning manure piles into the fort. Experts believe that the Spanish-flu virus was an airborne virus.

How do you think scientists should begin to investigate a new illness if all they have to go on is speculation about its cause?

How would scientists begin to understand a virus which could impact people differently than it impacts animals?  

What answers could we get, for example, if a virus which originated in swine does not make the pigs ill but makes people deadly ill?


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