WHO says flu risk assessment unchanged after Hong Kong case

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The World Health Organisation said Thursday that it was not changing its risk assessment on avian flu, even though Hong Kong reported its first human case of infection in seven years.

"Our risk assessment has not changed," said Gregory Hartl, spokesman of the WHO.

"This would fit the existing pattern of occasional human infection," he added.

Hong Kong earlier Thursday said a 59-year-old woman tested positive for Influenza A (H5), a variant of bird flu. She was listed in a serious condition in a hospital isolation ward.

Hong Kong recorded its last human case of bird flu in 2003, and had the world's first major outbreak among humans in 1997, when six people died of a mutation of the virus, which is normally confined to poultry.

Millions of poultry were culled in the 1997 outbreak, which previewed the full-blown panic that struck Hong Kong when the deadly respiratory disease SARS emerged in 2003, killing about 300 people.

Since 2003, some 508 human cases of avian flu have been reported, including 40 in 2010.

© 2010 AFP

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