German expert says no evidence bird flu spreading between humans

29th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

30 September 2004 , HAMBURG - A German immunology expert has played down fears that human-to-human transmissions of avian influenza could become widespread. Professor Bernhard Fleischer of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg said there was no evidence of human transmissions of the virus spreading. The comments follow confirmation by Thai health authorities on Tuesday that a 26-year-old woman who had little or no contact with chickens had died of avian influenza. They acknowledged

30 September 2004

HAMBURG - A German immunology expert has played down fears that human-to-human transmissions of avian influenza could become widespread.

Professor Bernhard Fleischer of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg said there was no evidence of human transmissions of the virus spreading.

The comments follow confirmation by Thai health authorities on Tuesday that a 26-year-old woman who had little or no contact with chickens had died of avian influenza.

They acknowledged that she was the first "probable" case of human- to-human transmission of the deadly disease.

The woman, whose 11-year-old daughter died of bird flu-like symptoms on 8 September  was carrying the H5N1 virus when she herself died on September 20.

Altogether 10 Thai nationals have died from avian influenza this year, in two separate outbreaks of the epidemic.

The case had raised fears that the H5N1 virus, which was previously thought to be only transmittable from birds-to-humans, may have evolved into a human-to-human flu.

Fleischer acknowledged there was always a possibility that bird- flu virus in humans or pigs could mix with other flu viruses and then be transmitted from human to human.

He said Hong Kong had shown in 1997 the best way of combating the virus: by destroying all affected chickens and vaccinating all healthy chickens in the vicinity.

At the same time everyone working with chickens should be vaccinated against prevailing human flu viruses, he said.

Fleischer added that bird flu will always periodically break out in Asia in areas where people are living in close quarters with poultry and pigs.

DPA

Subject: German news

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