Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When Bird Flu Becomes Invisible

If true, this development could prove to be staggeringly bad news for Indonesia, and the world, as the most effective methodology for detecting bird flu infection in poultry stocks has, thus far, been looking for birds that are showing symptoms of infection, or have been killed by the virus :
Chickens infected by bird flu in Indonesia are now mostly symptom-free, confounding efforts to fight the virus in the world's hardest hit country, an Agriculture Ministry official said Monday.

"It's really giving us a headache," said Musni Suatmodjo, the director of animal health.

Chickens are testing positive for the H5N1 virus, but they are staying healthy, making it difficult to identify which are infected.

John Weaver, of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, noted that several researchers have said many infected chickens appear to be surviving in Indonesia, triggering questions about whether the virus may have become less pathogenic.
It's an interesting and important question. If more birds can carrying the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, and survive, and show no outward signs of infection, this may mean that further mutations of the virus could prove far more deadlier than what has been seen so far.

The virus may be becoming less pathogenic, or simply more effective in transmitting itself.

Bird Flu Infection Chickens In Indonesia Showing No Symptoms

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