3 Jan 2012

Latest bird flu virus 'doesn't jump between humans'

10:14 am on 3 January 2012

Chinese health authorities say the latest bird flu virus that killed a 39-year-old bus driver in the southern city of Shenzhen over the weekend is not yet transmissible between humans.

They say the virus was 90 percent similar to H5N1 viruses previously isolated in ducks in China, suggesting the man was very likely to have been infected through direct contact with a bird, Reuters reports.

Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection said an analysis of the virus also found that it can be treated by amantadine, a common antiviral drug.

The man, who lived in Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong, died from multi-organ failure, a week after being admitted to hospital with a fever brought on by the virus, state media reported.

The virus is normally found in birds but can occasionally jump to people. Researchers worry that the virus could mutate into a form that would spread easily between humans.

Hong Kong culled 17,000 chickens at a wholesale poultry market two weeks ago after a dead chicken there tested positive for H5N1 avian virus, and suspended imports of live chickens from the mainland for 21 days in a bid to prevent any spread of the disease.