Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bird Flu Virus Already Mutating, Closed Door Conference Told

From Reuters :

The deadly H5N1 form of the bird flu virus is rapidly mutating and the world must be on guard even though the disease has yet to be transmitted between humans, experts told a meeting in Beijing, Chinese media said on Tuesday.

"The experts said that despite there being no evidence yet of human-to-human transmission of bird flu, the highly pathogenic H5N1 form of the virus is continuing to rapidly mutate, and human infections keep happening," the Health News reported.

The closed door conference, attended by experts from the Chinese and U.S. centres for disease control and the World Health Organisation among others, opened on Monday, the official newspaper of the Chinese Health Ministry reported.

The report provided no other details, except that the meeting will discuss bird flu vaccines.

The H5N1 virus remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, killing millions within weeks or months.

So far, most human cases can be traced to direct or indirect contact with infected birds. China has not reported a poultry outbreak since Sept. 20 last year, though earlier this month the health ministry confirmed a man in the eastern province of Anhui had contracted bird flu but subsequently recovered.

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