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Bird Flu Not Contagious Among People

A Chinese health agency confirms that the strain of H5N1 bird flu that killed a Chinese man last month does not spread between humans.

By | January 3, 2012

Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus)WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, LIP KEE YAP

A 39-year-old bus driver in China died from multi-organ failure on Saturday (December 31) as a result of infection by a virus authorities recently confirmed to be related to the H5N1 bird flu. The case, the country's first in 18 months, led to fears that the virus may spread.  But according to the Shenzhen Disease Control Center, a genetic analysis indicated the virus spread directly from poultry to the victim, and is not contagious among people.

“The virus found in the patient was 90 percent similar to H5N1 viruses previously isolated in ducks in China, which suggested that the man was very likely to have been infected through direct contact with a bird,” the agency said in a statement.  ”Though it is highly pathogenic to human beings, the virus can not spread among people.”

H5N1 rarely infects humans, and is usually transmitted from diseased poultry. According to the World Health Organization, there have been only 573 confirmed bird flu cases since 2003, 336 of which were fatal. Xinhua said health authorities are still investigating where the man became infected, but the Disease Control Center’s analysis suggested the strain was similar to that recently found in wild birds in Hong Kong. The analysis also revealed that the virus can be treated by the common antiviral drug amantadine. (Hat tip to PharmaPro)

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