By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer
WASHINGTON – Scientists have pinpointed the cradle-to-grave path that flu takes as it sweeps the globe every year — starting with the birth of new strains in Asia and ending when the virus burns out in South America.
In between, influenza catches a ride to North America andabout six to nine months after a new strain emerges in Asia, a pattern that promises to help health authorities better prepare each winter’s flu vaccine.
Already, monitoring is being beefed up in parts of East and Southeast Asia “as fast as we can” in hopes of more accurately spotting strains poised to jump continents, said Dr. Michael Shaw, a flu specialist with the.
Now, “we know the part of the world to look in, and the probable time of the year to look,” he said.
The good news: Once they leave Asia, newdon’t seem to get more dangerous as they migrate from continent to continent, an international research team reports in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.