A Dutch laboratory claiming to have developed a deadly strain of bird flu wants to publish its research, sparking fears that terrorists could use the information.
Scientists at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam say they have been able to mutate the H5N1 virus so that it can be transmitted through the air.
Until now it was thought it could be transmitted between humans only via close physical contact.
The Netherlands team, led by virologist Ron Fouchier, carried out the research to find out how easy it is to genetically mutate the virus into a highly-infectious airborne human flu.
Mr Fouchier said in a statement they discovered that transmission of the virus was possible between humans "and can be carried out more easily than we thought".
"In a laboratory, it was possible to change the H5N1 into a virus... that can easily be spread through the air. This process could also happen naturally," he said.
Mr Fouchier argues that any knowledge gained could be vital in the development of new vaccines. Read More