Friday, January 13, 2006

Risk to UK Low from H5N1 Virus in Tukey

The WHO International Influenza Centre at the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill have completed the genetic and antigenic analyses of viruses recovered from two fatal cases of H5N1 influenza in Turkey. Results from the analyses have shown that there are a small number of differences between the viruses from the human cases in the Turkish outbreak.

These differences include a mutation at the receptor binding site seen in one of the Turkish viruses. Such mutations have been seen previously and are to be expected given the diversity of H5 viruses. The gene sequencing of the viruses has also indicated that they are sensitive to the antivirals, oseltamivir and amantadine.

These viruses are very closely related to current avian H5N1 viruses in Turkey, and also to those isolated at Qinghai Lake in Western China last year. These results do not mean that the virus has the capacity to transmit from person to person.

This is not the start of a pandemic and the risk to the UK remains very low.

So far investigations in Turkey have not shown any human to human transmission of the virus.

Avian flu remains a disease of poultry, and human cases have occurred only in people who have had close contact with diseased and /or infected birds. These human cases have occurred in a rural part of eastern Turkey. The risk to people travelling to Turkey remains low but we would remind travellers to avoid close contact with poultry.

Read the Entire 13 Jan 2005 Press Statement from the Health Protection Agency
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