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Human-to-human transmission of bird flu virus now confirmed

Friday, June 23, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition

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(NewsTarget) According to a World Health Organization (WHO) investigation, an Indonesian man who died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu almost certainly caught the disease from his 10-year-old son. He is likely the first laboratory-confirmed case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly disease.

The man is one of seven members of a family cluster in Sumatra who are thought to have contracted the disease during a family banquet in late April. Five others have already died. The family members were not known to have had close contact with any sick birds, which has been a factor in almost all of the cases of infection worldwide. However, one family member was a vegetable merchant in a market that sold birds, and by the time of the banquet, the merchant was already showing symptoms of the illness. Some of the family had slept in the same small room as the sick woman while caring for her.

Although WHO investigators say the virus mutated slightly when the son contracted the disease, they report it had not done so in any way that would make it more contagious. While the final report has not been released, NewsTarget has learned that WHO closely monitored the 54 neighbors and family members who lived near the family in Sumatra and found that none of them had contracted the virus.

"Yes, it is slightly altered, but in a way that viruses commonly mutate," said Dick Thompson, a WHO spokesman in Geneva. "But that didn't make it more transmissible or cause more severe disease."

In prior infections that were speculated to be human-to-human, researchers were either unable to test patient samples, or virus samples obtained were identical to infected poultry from the area. Despite the fact that the son's mutated virus is not any more transmittable, it has allowed WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control scientists to document the incident as an almost definite case of human-to-human transmission.

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