And you thought â€śContagionâ€ť was only a movie.
Scientists in the Netherlands have genetically altered the N5N1 avian influenza strain â€” more commonly known as â€śbird fluâ€ť â€” making it contagious enough to kill up to half the worldâ€™s population.
"I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one," Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist who has worked on anthrax for many years, told Science Insider. "I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this."
The virus was genetically altered by virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center so that it is now easily transmissible between ferrets, which react similarly to humans in transmitting flu viruses.
Even more frightening is that Fouchier is fighting to have his work published â€” a recipe for disaster should it get into the wrong hands, according to academics and bioterrorism experts.