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FAO Warns Mutant Form Of H5N1 Bird Flu Poses Threat To Asia

“The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday warned about a new mutant strain of the deadly bird flu H5N1 virus in China and Vietnam, saying there could be a ‘major resurgence’ of the disease,” Agence France-Presse reports. In a statement, FAO “said it was concerned about ‘the appearance in China and Vietnam of a variant virus able to sidestep the defenses provided by existing vaccines,’ adding that the new strain was known as H5N1 – 2.3.2.1,” the news agency notes. The organization said the virus, which can be spread by wild bird migration, “poses a direct threat to Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia as well as endangering the Korean peninsula and Japan” (8/29).

“The FAO urged increased preparedness and surveillance against the variant strain of H5N1, the virus that has infected 565 people since it first appeared in 2003, killing 331 of them. The latest death was reported in Cambodia earlier this month,” according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur/M&C (8/29). The Associated Press/FoxNews.com notes that the “virus was eliminated from most of the 63 countries infected at its peak in 2006, but it remained endemic in six countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam” (8/29).