The World Health Organisation has said it's taking the rapid spread of a deadly new strain of bird flu, H5N1, very seriously. It has warned there's definitely potential for a serious human outbreak. This follows confirmed outbreaks in Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Japan and Vietnam.
This report from Jill McGivering:
The list of countries known to have the relatively new and deadly strain of bird flu is rapidly growing. The focus now is on Indonesia where tests will soon confirm whether or not the bird flu which killed several million chickens there is the often fatal H5N1, already confirmed in 5 other countries in the region. Reports of an outbreak in Laos are also being investigated.
A spokesman for the World Health Organisation told the BBC it was clearly spreading, causing serious concern. As new information was emerging, it was becoming clear, he said, the strain had been around in the region much longer than first thought. That multiplied the risk of human infections, he added, and of the virus mutating, perhaps by attaching itself to human flu, and becoming far more deadly. So far seven people have died, six of them in Vietnam, after being infected with the strain.
But so far there's no evidence of direct human to human b>transmission. Were that to happen, the death rate amongst people could multiply dramatically.
This new strain first appeared in Hong Kong in 1997. Scientists then went on to create a prototype vaccine but that's now become redundant because the virus has since mutated. Between 10 and 20 million chickens across the region have died or been killed in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
BBC, Jill McGivering
variedad de la enfermedad que puede resultar mortal.
multiplied the risk
multiplicó el riesgo
mutar (multiplica el riesgo de que el virus mute)
a prototype vaccine
el prototipo de una vacuna