Bird flu strain has begun to mutate into form ‘more likely’ to cause human pandemic
Warning comes days after authorities in China announced they had identified cases of H7N9
Flu experts are currently picking through DNA data of victims to assess severity of the strain
Virus needs a ‘very close eye kept on it’ say experts
By ANNA HODGEKISS
3 April 2013
A deadly strain of bird flu previously unknown in people has begun to mutate into a form more likely to cause a human pandemic, scientists say.
Just days after authorities in China announced they had identified cases of H7N9, flu experts in laboratories across the world are picking through the DNA sequence data of samples isolated from patients to assess its severity.
One of the world’s top flu experts, Ab Osterhaus, from the Erasmus Medical Centre in The Netherlands, says the sequences show some genetic mutations that should put authorities on alert and entail increased surveillance in animals and humans.
‘The virus has to a certain extent already adapted to mammalian species and to humans, so from that point of view it’s worrisome,’ he said.