Chances of bird flu eradication are slim: scientists
PARIS: Chinese researchers warn on Thursday that there are only slender chances of stamping out the bird flu virus, which triggered a health scare across Southeast Asia last year and raised fears of a killer pandemic.
In a study of the genetic ancestry of the so-called H5N1 virus that causes the disease, they say the agent is firmly established in duck and chicken flocks in China and other countries, and will only be rooted out by a dedicated, long-term campaign. “H5N1 virus is now endemic in poultry in Asia and has gained an entrenched ecological niche from which to present a long-term pandemic threat to humans,” the scientists warn. At the moment, the virus can be transmitted from birds to humans, sometimes with fatal consequences, but not from humans to humans. But the proximity of farm fowl to humans, and also to pigs, which can harbour both avian and human viruses and act as a vessel to mix them, poses a special threat, the experts say.
It could create a virus that would be both lethal and transmissible among humans. afp