China Finds Bird Flu Virus Mutating

November 29, 2005 Updated: November 29, 2005

TAIPEI- China's Health Ministry said on November 28 that analysis shows the H5N1 bird flu virus that caused human infection cases recently in China is different from the virus that caused human infection cases in Vietnam. The sequence of the genes in the virus found in Vietnam has “a certain level of mutation.” The mutation will not enable the virus to cause human to human infection, according to the Ministry of Health.

According to the Health Ministry's website, the media asked, “What is the different between the virus carried by the patients in China and that carried by the animals? Is there any mutation? Is the virus different from the virus carried by patients in Europe, Vietnam, and any other countries?”

The Ministry reply was, “According to lab result, test shows the H5N1 virus from sample of the recent infected human in our country and the virus taken from the bird sample in the infected area in the country are most likely to come from the same strain. The gene sequence of the virus found in Vietnam has had a certain level of mutation compared to the virus in our country. The mutation will not enable the virus to transfer between humans.”

Currently, there have been over 150 human bird flu infection cases around the world, none in Europe. There are three confirmed cases in China, two of the patients have died, and the patient from Hunan province has already recovered.

It is suspected that bird flu was responsible for the death of a 12-year old girl from Hunan, but the case could not be verified because the girl was cremated.