Bird Flu Alarm

2006-02-10-China says human bird flu cases a mystery

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-02-10-China says human bird flu cases a mystery

BEIJING - China has been unable to determine why most of its 11 human cases of bird flu have occurred in areas where no poultry outbreaks have been detected, a health ministry spokesman said on Friday.

The health ministry this week announced China萸?11th case in the southeastern province of Fujian.

As in seven of the previous reported infections, the 26-year-old woman fell ill in an area where the agriculture ministry had not detected the deadly virus among poultry, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In four of these cases the health ministry later found the patients had close contacts with sick birds, although the agricultural ministry could still not determine a bird flu outbreak.

Infected poultry and birds are believed to be main sources of infection among people worldwide, and health ministry spokesman Mao Qunan told reporters this was most likely the case in China as well.

But he said finding the exact source of infections was proving extremely difficult.

He said some patients could be living in environments that became contaminated with the virus through 諭봭known channels? with the virus in those cases not necessarily causing large-scale deaths among animals.

諛쳂ere is a lack of accurate information regarding the contamination of the environment from infected animals,?Mao said, referring to the global problem as well as China.

However Mao reassured there was no evidence of the virus mutating into a strain that could be transmitted easily among humans, circumstances that health experts fear would cause a global pandemic that would kill millions of people.

諛쳂ere is no evidence that this virus is able to go through drastic mutation into an extent that could lead to human-to-human infection,?Mao said.

China has reported 34 outbreaks of poultry since the beginning of last year, with most occurring since October.

In the latest outbreak, reported this week, health authorities in north China萸?Shanxi province placed 35 people under observation after 15,000 fowl died of bird flu on the farm where they were working.

The WHO says that of the 165 confirmed cases of bird flu in humans detected since 2003, 88 people have died. Most of the victims have been in Asia, with seven in China.

Understanding Avian Influenza