Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese health authorities today confirmed a case of human to human contact of Bird Flu, dating back to last December in Jiangsu province. The case involved a 52 year old farther and his 24 year old son who contacted the H5N1 virus within a week of each other. The young man died, but his farther has survived thanks to treatment with anti-viral drugs and a trial vaccine. At the time the World Health Organisation (WHO) had only said that it “did not exclude” the possibility of human to human contact. Today it has been confirmed.
A visit to a poultry market proved fatal for the young man. The father, it seems, did not come into direct contact with infected fowl, the only “risk of exposure” was contact with his son. The virus detected in the blood samples of the close relatives was practically identical, from a genetic point of view.
The spreading of the H5N1 virus between humans has already happened in dozens of countries including Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan. Mostly, the source of the contagion was found in the blood samples of the family member who had been in close contact with infected fowl,. Moreover, in these cases the virus failed to endemically spread throughout the community. However scientists now fear that the virus is capable of mutating to become pandemic.
The so-called Bird Flu virus is spread by migratory birds and passes to humans through contact with infected farmed fowl. Breeding grounds for this virus periodically break out in South East Asia, which has led to the suppression of millions upon millions of animals. According to experts in the field there is dire need for change in poultry farming methods, particularly in Asian nations where these animals live in close contact with humans, often in backyards.
Since 2003, with a series of successive alarms from South Korea to Vietnam, the dangerous nature of the H5N1 virus has increased now resulting in a 100% death rate for infected birds. Transmission to humans first came to light in 2004. Since then 378 certified cases of virus have been confirmed in humans, with 238 deaths throughout the world.