Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grave-robbing for Science

The Spanish Flu killed an estimated 20 to 100 million people across the globe in the years 1918-1920. Towards the end of the pandemic soldier and diplomat Sir Mark Sykes was killed by the virus and buried in a lead coffin.

With lingering fears of a possible bird flu (H5N1) pandemic, and with a dearth of samples from Spanish flu (a subtype of avian flu H1N1), he has recently been exhumed by scientists -- paging Dr. Frankenstein!

Taking tissues from his body, well preserved by his lead casket, the team is trying to learn more about the Spanish flu and how it killed him in the hope of transferring that knowledge to the understanding and treatment of H5N1. His body was re-interred after removing samples in a special laboratory, airtight to avoid any risk of contamination.


Rob said...

Should've mentioned that link was a video. I love not having to read.
I didn't really understand WHY? a lead coffin??? It's probably not an option these days.