Bird flu transmitted human-to-human?

WHO says limited transmission of deadly H5N1 virus may have occurred in Pakistan.

GENEVA | December 23, 2007

Limited human-to-human transmission of the deadly bird flu virus may have occurred in Pakistan but the threat of a further spread has apparently ended, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.

The statement comes after at least eight people were suspected of being infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. Two of those believed infected have died. They were the first human cases reported in the country.

WHO said there have been no new infections reported for two weeks, prompting officials to say there appeared no threat of a further spread of the virus. It is spread to people primarily through contact with diseased poultry or birds.

Health officials fear if the virus mutates, it could be easily spread from person to person, setting off a worldwide pandemic.

Preliminary results from Pakistan indicate the disease was spread human-to-human, according to published reports. A WHO official said there was no cause for alarm.

WHO said that since 2003, when the virus re-emerged, there have been 340 reported cases, of which 209 people have died. Those figures do not include the latest suspected cases in Pakistan.

Indonesia has reported the most cases - 115 since 2005 - of which 93 people have died. On Saturday, six members of an extended Indonesian family tested negative for bird flu, ruling out a possible human-to-human outbreak there. The family members were tested after being hospitalized with bird flu-like symptoms.

Vietnam ranks second in the number of bird flu cases, with 100 cases since 2003, 46 of them fatal.

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