Bird flu may be far less lethal to people than the World Health Organization’s assessment of a death rate topping 50 percent, scientists said on Thursday in a finding that adds fuel to the heated controversy over publication of bird flu research.
Scientists led by virologist Peter Palese of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York argue in an analysis published in the online edition of the journal Science that the WHO, a U.N. agency, is calculating the death rate using an estimate of human bird flu cases that is simply too low.
Palese and his colleagues did not offer a specific death rate for people infected by bird flu. But based on figures cited in their analysis, the rate appears to be under 1 percent.
California law enforcement officers can continue collecting DNA samples from adults arrested for felonies, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday.
A divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a 2004 California law requiring officials to collect the DNA samples does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.
“DNA analysis is an extraordinarily effective tool for law enforcement to identify arrestees, solve past crimes, and exonerate innocent suspects,” Judge Milan Smith wrote for the 2-1 majority. The government’s interests in the genetic information outweigh any privacy concerns, the majority concluded.