BEIJING, Feb 21: The H7N9 bird flu virus, which has been linked to at least 88 fatal cases in China since January, has mutated into a new strain, but officials said it poses more danger to poultry.
The mutation was found in January in two people who had contracted H7N9 bird flu in Guangdong province.
On the basis of a joint study with experts from the agricultural sector, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has concluded that the mutation “does not make the virus more infectious to human at the moment.”
The CDC has lately confirmed the finding and reported the case to the World Health Organisation (WHO), state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The agricultural sector has also found the mutation in four poultry samples from Guangdong, the CDC said.
The centre said 105 people who were in close contact with the patients were being monitored, but none had developed symptoms of bird flu.
Bird flu is known to easily mutate. The people are concerned that a mutation might make it more infectious to humans, they said.
Chinese health and agricultural authorities will continue to study the mutated strains source and its impact while intensifying monitoring to detect H7N9’s further mutations, it said.
China has stepped up prevention of H7N9 avian flu transmission. It has been linked to at least 88 deaths since January.
About 271 human infections cases were reported. Most infected humans have had contact with poultry or dead birds.
Among them were the two patients from Guangdong province, CDC said. (PTI)