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WHO: Human-to-Human Transmission of Avian Flu Is Possible

WHO: Human-to-Human Transmission of Avian Flu Is Possible

Posted May. 19, 2005 23:39,   


The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last Wednesday that avian influenza is likely to become a pandemic threat because it is becoming more easily transmitted among people.

“According to a study on the influenza that occurred in the northern part of Vietnam which was found up to last April, the recently emerging H5N1 virus is evolving and becoming more infectious for humans,” said a study presented at the 58th annual conference of the WHO held in Geneva, Switzerland. So far now, the virus is known to be only infectious to people who come into physical contact with birds.

However, the WHO report said that the virus is becoming more infectious among people, and the age range of those possibly infected is expanding.

Regarding this, the report warned, “Even though we can’t prove it medically, it appears that the virus is continuing to evolve and pose a growing pandemic threat.”

Based on these findings, the WHO argued that all nations, including those that have never been exposed to the virus, should promptly take pandemic contingency measures.

It also warned that poorer African and Asian countries that have low access to health services are the most vulnerable to flu transmission.

Klaus Stohr, in charge of influenza for the WHO, said that if avian influenza becomes a pandemic disease, we would see millions of deaths in the same way that other influenzas that swept the world in the 20th Century harmed human beings.

Jae-Young Kim redfoot@donga.com