Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"AVIAN INFLUENZA: More Cases in Turkey, but No Mutations Found"

Read the full news story in Science magazine. (Science 13 January 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5758, p. 161; subscription required.)

"The H5N1 avian influenza strain has sprung another surprise on public health experts, infecting at least 14 people in Turkey in the past few weeks. That's a "very high and worrying" number, says virologist Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, given that fewer than 150 people (half of them fatally) are known to have been stricken during its 2-year rampage across large swaths of Asia.

"The slim bit of good news this week is that the virus does not appear to have mutated and become more dangerous to humans, says epidemiologist Guénaël Rodier, who leads a 10-member World Health Organization (WHO) team of experts investigating the incidents and assisting the Turkish government. But the outbreak among birds, first reported in October, is much worse than originally believed, Rodier says, and the lack of control and protection measures has given the virus ample opportunity to cross the species barrier."

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