Bird Flu Alarm

2006-05-01-China bird flu case fuels fears

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-05-01-China bird flu case fuels fears

A dead wild goose in north-west China has tested positive for bird flu, raising new fears about transmission along migration routes.

China's national bird flu laboratory confirmed over the weekend that the goose had tested positive for H5N1, the official news agency Xinhua said.

The bird was found in Qinghai province, a known migratory transit point.

A series of bird flu outbreaks occurred in the area in mid-2005, killing more than 1,000 birds.

Researchers believe that wild birds from the region may have carried the virus into other countries.

According to the World Health Organization, the strain of bird flu found in two people in Turkey was virtually identical to the versions isolated in Qinghai last year.

Since diagnosing the virus over the weekend, the authorities in Qinghai have disinfected the area and set up strict quarantine measures.

Pandemic fears

Last week, China reported its 18th human case of human bird flu.

The infected girl, in the south-western province of Sichuan province, is being treated in hospital.

In all, 12 Chinese people have died from the disease since the latest outbreak began there late last year.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 100 people worldwide since 2003. It has also devastated poultry stocks.

The majority of deaths have occurred in Asia, but cases in people and birds have also been recorded in Europe and Africa.

Almost all human infections so far are thought to have been caused by direct contact with sick poultry.

Experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that passes easily between humans, possibly sparking a pandemic.

Understanding Avian Influenza