9 Apr 2013

NZ testing for new strain of bird flu

5:14 pm on 9 April 2013

Scientists are monitoring whether a new strain of bird flu that has killed at least six people in China has made it to New Zealand.

The National Centre for Biosecurity and Disease in Upper Hutt will be taking samples from patients with severe acute respiratory infection and certain strains of influenza to test them for the H7N9 strain.

Virologist Sue Huang says there is no sign of the strain in New Zealand so far and the tests are precautionary.

Dr Huang says patients with severe pneumonia who have visited China, or know someone who has, should go to hospital for testing.

New Zealand scientists are working with international colleagues to study the virus and determine the best way of protecting against its spread, she says.