News - Flu Virus Discovered in Bird Dropping in South Korea, Govt Says
South Korea discovered a virus that could mutate into a deadly strain of bird flu in a dropping collected as part of nationwide testing, a government official said today.
The H5 subtype was in one of 50 samples of bird droppings to test positive for `low-pathogenic' avian influenza, said Yang Heung Gu, a veterinary officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in a telephone interview in Seoul. Low-pathogenic strains do not cause severe disease in birds.
Health authorities working to avert a global pandemic of bird flu -- predicted to kill as many as 7.4 million people -- are concerned by outbreaks of viruses such as H5 because they can mutate into deadly strains. Since mid-2003, the severe H5N1 virus has infected at least 139 people across Asia, killing 71, according to the World Health Organization.
The H5 virus was in a migratory bird's dropping, found at a lake in Ansan, a city west of Seoul, and the government will take no particular action, Yang said. ``We will act if chickens and geese are infected with H5 or H7 subtypes,'' he said. The investigation of bird droppings began in October, a statement from the government ministry said.