Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In China, flu virus mutating in humans

[ Wednesday, November 30, 2005 12:51:34 amAGENCIES ]
BEIJING: The H5N1 strain of bird flu seen in human cases in China has mutated as compared with strains found in human cases in Vietnam.

Chinese labs have found that the genetic order of the H5N1 virus seen in humans infected in China is different from that found in humans in Vietnam, Xinhua reported on Monday.

In China's human cases, the virus has mutated "to a certain degree", health ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said. "But the mutation cannot cause human-to-human transmission of the avian flu," he noted.

Mao said since the bird flu first broke out in 1997, no human case has been found in Europe so far.

Indonesia bird flu case had 2 deaths in family-WHO
29 Nov 2005 13:13:18 GMT
Source: Reuters

GENEVA, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy confirmed as Indonesia's 12th human case of bird flu had two brothers who died from similar symptoms days before he was taken to hospital, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The brothers died on Nov. 11 after being diagnosed with typhoid fever, but they were never tested for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, leaving questions hanging over the cause of death, WHO spokeswoman Maria Chang said.

"They had similar symptoms, fever and respiratory distress, but we don't have samples. We'll probably never have a definite diagnosis," Chang said, adding that the possibility of human-to-human transmission of bird flu could not be ruled out.

Family chickens had died shortly before the deaths of the brothers, aged 7 and 20, Chang said.

The West Java boy, whom Indonesian officials said on Saturday had tested positive for the H5N1 virus, remains in stable condition, she said.

The avian virus remains hard for people to catch but the fear is that it could mutate into a form that could be passed easily from person to person, sparking a global pandemic in which millions could die.

Asked about possible human-to-human transmission in the West Java family, Chang replied: "In theory, it could fit, but we won't have an opportunity to get samples from the brothers. No one else in the wider community is sick and that is reassuring."

A team of WHO and Indonesian health ministry investigators have gone to the village to trace contacts of the surviving brother, who entered hospital on Nov 16, according to Chang.

"We could not exclude it (human-to-human transmission), but an investigative team has gone house-to-house to 80 households and hasn't found any symptoms in the wider community," she said.

"There is no reason to think there could be any clusters."

Indonesia has had seven confirmed deaths from bird flu and the 16-year-old boy is among five known cases in the world's fourth most populous nation to survive the disease.

Bird flu has claimed 68 lives in five countries in Asia since 2003 -- Vietnam (42), Thailand (13), Indonesia (7), Cambodia (4) and China (2) -- according to the WHO.

No comments: