`Deadly` bird flu in China mutates, may infect people

Updated: Apr 05, 2013, 12:02 PM IST

Tokyo: Bird flu in China appears to have mutated, and the virus has genetic markers that would help it infect people, a report has said.

So far the flu has sickened nine people in China and killed three.

It`s not clear how they became infected, but there`s no evidence that the virus is spreading easily among people.

However, it can evidently move through poultry without making them sick, experts said, making it difficult to track the germ in flocks, the Japan Times reports.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the H7N9 virus with other scientists to help study how the strain might behave in different animals and situations.

One scientist said the sequence raises concern about a potential global epidemic, but that it`s impossible to give a precise estimate of how likely that is.

According to the paper, Richard Webby, director of a World Health Organization flu center at St. Jude Children`s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee said that the virus has genetic markers that would help it infect people.

That makes him worry about a pandemic slightly more than he does over other bird flu viruses, such as the H5N1 strain that emerged a decade ago, the report said.