by Marjorie Howard, courtesy of The Tufts Journal; Photo by Alonso Nichols
When avian flu first broke out, says Gretchen Kaufman, it might have been seen as something that killed a lot of chickens but was of little importance to humans. “Somebody had to make the connection that this could turn into a human pandemic,” she says. “If no one had thought of that, it would have a completely different focus, namely that it’s a chicken disease.”
Instead, says Kaufman, a professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, there is a concerted effort to understand the disease in animals and how it could mutate and eventually spread among humans. Because of this awareness, countries are working together to prevent a potentially devastating outbreak of the disease.