A deadly strain of bird flu has claimed the lives of more than 50 people in Asian countries since early last year. The majority of recent cases have been in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/15388_vietnam.html ' target=_blank>Vietnam -- 49 since December 2004. Seventeen were fatal, and some have occurred in clusters, raising fear of a change in the transmission pattern. Millions of chickens, ducks and geese have been killed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in an effort to stem the virus's spread.
The World Health Organization is concerned the virus might mutate into a form that can be passed from one person to another and create a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/science/19/95/380/14373_vaccine.html ' target=_blank>global pandemic, informs VOA News.
According to the Food Consumer, ever since 2003, over 90 people in southern Asia have suffered from the bird flu caused by a virus known as influenza A/H5N1. The WHO believes that the original bird virus could have mutated over the years, and now a new variant might be spreading from person to person and it could potentially infect millions of people leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths.
More cases of bird flu have been found in northern Vietnam than in southern Vietnam, eight clusters vs. two, leading researchers to believe that the Northern influenza virus is more infectious, and it possibly spreads from person to person.
In addition to Vietnam, both Cambodia and Thailand have seen cases of bird flu or avian flu. Within these countries the cases have been clustered, meaning that there are similar individuals living near each other that have developed the influenza.
Fatality from the bird flu has been 83.3 percent in southern Vietnam compared to 34 percent in northern Vietnam indicating that the new variant can infect more people than the original H5N1.
The results of genetic tests also indicated that the new bird flu virus found in northern Vietnam is different from the bird flu strains found elsewhere.