Chinese Say Son With Bird Flu Likely Infected Father


This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Researchers in China have reported on a rare human-to-human case of bird flu. They say it is likely that a twenty-four year old man in the eastern province of Jiangsu infected his father last December.

They believe it happened while the father cared for the son in a hospital. The son died. The father lived.

Government researchers say genetic tests showed almost identical forms of the H5N1 virus in the two men. Ninety-one other people came in close contact with them but did not get infected.

The report appeared last week in the Lancet medical journal.

On April third, the World Health Organization said a family in Pakistan showed a high probability of human-to-human infection in a case last year. In that case, an animal doctor was infected with the avian flu virus when he helped destroy diseased birds in Peshawar. His three brothers became infected later although they had no contact with diseased birds.

Gregory Hartl is a project leader in the W.H.O.'s Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response office in Geneva. He says experts can never confirm one hundred percent that human-to-human infection with the virus has taken place. But he says there seems to have been at least six cases, including the ones in Pakistan and China in two thousand seven. 

Scientists worry that the virus might change over time into a form that passes easily among humans.

In other developments, Egypt reported its third death from H5N1 in the last two weeks. Health officials said a thirty year old woman got sick on April second. She was taken to a hospital seven days later. She was the twenty-second person to die from the virus in Egypt.

South Korea this month reported new outbreaks in birds.

And the United States health secretary urged Indonesia to cooperate more with the World Health Organization to share virus samples. Mike Leavitt spoke Monday in Jakarta. He noted that many life-saving vaccines have resulted from international cooperation.

Indonesia has had the most deaths of any country from H5N1, more than one hundred people. But it wants the right to approve any drug company's use of virus samples from Indonesia. Indonesia also wants guarantees that poor countries would be able to get low-cost vaccines developed from their samples.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. I'm Faith Lapidus.