Has it finally happened? Bird Flu death in China sparks fear of human-transmitted H5N1 strain

February 16, 2013CHINA A woman diagnosed with the H5N1 strain of the bird flu last week, has died in southwest China. Health authorities in Guiyang, Guizhou province, announced that the 21-year-old woman, Shuai Pengyue, died on Wednesday due to multiple organ failure as a result of the flu. Shuai was one of two women reported in the area to have contracted the new strain of the avian influenza. Health officials have investigated the two of them and concluded that neither patient was in contact with poultry before showing symptoms of the illness. Victim proximity is important to note because typically, the bird flu is contracted by being in contact with poultry. In this case, health officials worry this could be signs that the H5N1 strain can now be transmitted between humans. Meanwhile, in Cambodia, a 3-year-old girl has become the sixth person to die from the bird flu in the country this year. The Cambodian Health Ministry and the World Health Organization released statements saying that the child was in contact with poultry recently in the southern province of Kampot. Cambodia has already reported seven human cases of the H5N1 virus this year, all of them fatal except one. Health officials and scientists have feared that the virus could mutate into a highly contagious strain which could be transmitted from human to human. Scientists in the Netherlands and the U.S. have been working on an artificially mutated version of the flu that is easily transmissible among humans in an attempt to do research for prevention or a cure. Research was halted until recently due to fears of a deadly global pandemic if the virus was accidentally removed from the controlled environment. Now, researchers are making a push to resume investigation of the deadly virus, especially in light of the new cases. Leo Poon Lit-man, an associate professor at the University Of Hong Kong School Of Public Health, told the South China Morning Post that he supports the controversial research. “The only way… to control the virus and come to a prevention plan is to allow the research to go forward,” Poon said. Adding, “the H5N1 is still a threat to humans, and it is true that the research may pose some risk. But we may also benefit from it, as we need further understanding of the virus to ensure a better response in case of an outbreak.” The mortality rate for the avian flu was as high as 60 percent during the 2003 outbreak in Southeast Asia. Most of the victims caught the disease from birds. – IBT 
              H5N1, the next pandemic? Scientists greatest fear was human transmission of the virus – 2008
SARS-like virus infects 3rd victim in UK: A third member of a family in the UK has been infected with a new respiratory illness similar to the deadly SARS virus, officials say. It strengthens evidence that the virus can spread between people, however experts say the risk to the general population remains small. Of the 12 people confirmed to have the virus, five have died. This case appears to be a milder form of the infection and the patient is not being treated in hospital. The infection is thought to come from contact with animals. However, if the virus can spread between people it poses a much more serious threat. This is the fourth case identified in the UK. The first was a patient flown in from Qatar for treatment. The second was linked to travel to the Middle East and Pakistan. The virus is then thought to have spread from the second patient to his son and another member of the family. Prof John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the Health Protection Agency, said: “Although this patient had a mild form of respiratory illness, as a precaution the HPA is advising that the patient self-isolate and limit contact with non-household members. “Although this case appears to be due to person-to-person transmission, the risk of infection in contacts in most circumstances is still considered to be low.” Other people who came into contact with the family are being tested. –BBC 
H5N1 found in Germany: About 14,000 ducks at a German farm are being slaughtered following a bird flu outbreak. A federal laboratory confirmed Friday the H5N1 virus was detected at the farm near Seelow, east of Berlin — the first such finding in Germany in more than three years. On Saturday, officials started slaughtering the farm’s ducks. Local council spokesman Tobias Seyfarth told news agency dpa that all poultry within a one-kilometer (half-mile) radius of the facility will be kept under observation for the next 21 days, with owners told to keep their birds where they are and report any symptoms. The H5N1 virus normally spreads between sick poultry, but it can sometimes spread from poultry to humans. Bird flu has killed 367 people worldwide since surfacing in 2003, the World Health Organization says. –SF Gate
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5 Responses to Has it finally happened? Bird Flu death in China sparks fear of human-transmitted H5N1 strain

  1. Chynna says:

    Sounds more like they were losing funding because ppl were worried that the virus would be released by “mistake”.


  2. Kajajuk says:

    Hmmm, i always thought that a bird flu pandemic would start in India or South East Asia.


  3. Emanni says:

    UN warns of global bird flu threat

    UNITED NATIONS – The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Tuesday warned that the world is at risk of a repeat of the disastrous bird flu outbreak seen six years ago unless countries step up global health measures to monitor and control this and other dangerous animal diseases.


  4. Lori Hill says:

    “Has it finally happened?
    Yes, human to human transmission has happened in the past. The CDC & WHO have been very slow to admit it, they eventually did in some cases. From the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/gen-info/facts.htm
    “While there has been some human-to-human spread of HPAI H5N1, it has been limited, inefficient and unsustained. For example, in 2004 in Thailand, probable human-to-human spread in a family resulting from prolonged and very close contact between an ill child and her mother was reported. In June 2006, WHO reported evidence of human-to-human spread in Indonesia. In this situation, eight people in one family were infected. The first family member is thought to have become ill through contact with infected poultry. This person then infected six family members. One of those six people (a child) then infected another family member (his father). No further spread outside of the exposed family was identified.

    Nonetheless, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change and because the HPAI H5N1 known ability to cause human infections, scientists remain concerned that HPAI H5N1 viruses have the potential to possibly change into a form of the virus that is able to spread easily from person to person. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If HPAI H5N1 virus were to gain the capacity to spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin.”


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