Thursday, December 06, 2007

Human To Human Bird Flu Transmission Is A Reality

Professor Paul Reynolds has told an international medical conference that "potentially lethal bird flu is being passed from person to person."

The story below was up on the Australian ABC News site on December 4, but has since been pulled. This link takes you to a Google cache version of the story :
A total of 1,600 doctors and scientists from 42 countries have attended a lung disease conference on Queensland's Gold Coast. The conference convenor, Professor Paul Reynolds, says human victims of avian flu in the past have contracted the disease from direct contact with sick birds, but that is changing.

"It's usually very close household contacts at this stage," he said. "Sometimes it's a little bit difficult to tease out if people are living together in a village whether the transmission has truly been person-to-person or the fact that the people involved have happened to come into contact with the same infected birds, but there are certainly some case reports emerging that are highly suggestive that direct person-to-person transfer is occurring."

Then there is this interesting story from 2004 where World Health Organisation officials flatly ruled out the possibility of human to human transmission, without further mutations. As we've reported here recently, those mutations have now occurred :

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that new tests show there is no evidence that the deadly bird flu has passed from person-to-person.

It says DNA tests on a 23-year-old Vietnamese woman who died of the virus showed no evidence she caught it from her sister, who also died.

The WHO originally reported the results last week but then recalled them, saying they had in fact tested a different woman.

Health experts say the bird flu virus must mutate before it can pass from person-to-person, although people can clearly catch it from birds.

Meanwhile, the father of a six-year-old boy who was the first in Thailand to die of bird flu, is to sue the government, for covering up the presence of the disease.

Chamnan Bounmanut says he would not have lost his son if the government had told the public the truth about the epidemic.

The government has denied any cover-up, saying provincial authorities "screwed up" in not recognising the disease.

The government says it acted swiftly last month once it realised bird flu had arrived in Thailand.

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