Concern over new H5N1 strain in China

A new strain of the avian flu virus detected in southern China raised concerns this week over current disease control measures and vaccines.

The “Fujian-like strain”, detected by scientists from Hong Kong and America, was first discovered in south China’s Fujian province in March 2005 – and has now spread to six more provinces in the country.

In a report published on Monday, the scientists argued that the new H5N1 strain had displaced other avian flu strains.  This “Fujian-like strain” had then developed a resistant to current avian flu vaccines.  

“The development of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses in poultry in Eurasia accompanied with the increase in human infection in 2006 suggests that the virus has not been effectively contained and that the pandemic threat persists,” the scientists concluded in the report published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) website.   

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today that they do not believe that the “Fujian-like strain” is mutating into a strain that could be passed from human-to-human.

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