Bird Flu Morphing Into
More Forms Infectious
To Humans

(Bloomberg) -- The bird flu virus spreading around the world is mutating into more variations with genetic characteristics that increase the risk of infection in humans, according to a U.S. government study.
Researchers are finding more human cases of the disease caused by a variant that had only been seen in birds before 2005, said Rebecca Garten, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who led the study. The research was presented today at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.
More surveillance is needed to track new forms of the virus that may acquire the ability to spread from person-to-person, Garten said. Government officials said earlier this month that federal laboratories are developing a second bird flu vaccine to provide more protection against new strains.
``As the virus continues its geographic expansion, it is also undergoing genetic diversity expansion,'' Garten said in an e-mailed statement before the conference. ``Change is the only constant.''
The virus, called H5N1, has spread from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe through migrating flocks and poultry farms. At least 177 people who live or work in close contact with birds have caught the flu, and 98 of them have died.
Fearing that the U.S. may be hit with the particularly lethal bird flu in the coming months, the departments of the Interior and Agriculture said March 8 they would ramp up testing for bird flu beginning in April. About 100,000 migratory birds are expected to be tested this year, compared with an average of about 12,000 in years past.




This Site Served by TheHostPros