No evidence of bird flu virus mutation: China

The 19-year-old died of the H5N1 strain of the virus after gutting ducks.

No evidence of bird flu virus mutation: China

China does not have any evidence to suggest that the bird flu virus has mutated into a form which can be transmitted from person to person, the Health Ministry said on Monday, after a woman died last week in Beijing.

The 19-year-old died of the H5N1 strain of the virus after gutting ducks, which experts say highlights the role and risks of waterfowl in the transmission of the virus to humans.

It was the first such death in the country in almost a year, and the 21st to date in China. "According to information provided by experts, there is no evidence to show that the bird flu virus has mutated into a form which may cause transmission from person to person," ministry spokesman Mao Qunan told a news conference.

"We remind everyone that at the same time as paying attention to protecting themselves, they should not have unnecessary fears," he added, according to a transcript carried on government website www.china.gov.cn.

The virus is generally more active during the cooler months between October and March, although the new Chinese case points to holes in surveillance of the virus in poultry.

Experts also say that many species of ducks are natural reservoirs of the virus and unlike chickens, they show no signs of disease.

The H5N1 strain remains largely a disease among birds but experts fear it could change into a form that is easily transmitted among people and kill millions of people worldwide.

With the world's biggest poultry population and hundreds of millions of farmers raising birds in their backyards, China is seen as crucial in the global fight against bird flu.

Reuters
Last Mod: 12 Ocak 2009, 15:33
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