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Avian Flu, Bioterrorism - Should We Stay Home?

Jean L. Patterson, Ph. D., Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research

Influenza has been around since ancient times – one epidemic was recorded by Hippocrates in 412 BC. Epidemics occur relatively frequently, at irregular intervals, and they usually cause mortality in the elderly. The latest outbreak of avian influenza type A is unique because children are as likely as the elderly to die from the disease. Because aquatic birds are reservoirs of the 15 subtypes of influenza type A virus, it is not an eradicable disease; prevention and control are the only practical approaches. The avian influenza currently circulating in several Asian countries is highly contagious and has been designated a select agent. This means the US government has determined it is a potential biological weapon.


Dr. Jean Patterson is currently the Chairman for the Department of Virology and Immunology at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR). Her major research interests are the molecular biology of viruses infecting protozoan parasites, transcription of bunyaviruses, and mechanisms of action of anti-viral agents. She is the author or co-author of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Patterson holds the E. M. Stevens Chair for Biomedical Research and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). Dr. Patterson is a reviewer for the Journal of Virology, Virology, Journal of General Virology, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, Experimental Parasitology, Antiviral Research, and the American Institute for Biological Sciences. In addition, she is a member of the Study Group on Protozoal Viruses of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses and numerous National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) panels. Dr. Patterson has more than 20 years of teaching experience, primarily at the University of Notre Dame and at Harvard Medical School, and most recently at the UTHSCSA. She is a member of the design team that completed the construction of a 36,000 sq. ft. laboratory building that holds 12 Biosafety Level 2, three Biosafety Level 3 labs, and one Biosafety Level 4 at SFBR. She also serves as a consultant for the development of the Montana BSL4 and the Boston BSL4 laboratory facilities.

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