posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 08:11 AM
Five people in Turkey have been diagnosed with H5N1 avian flu virus infection, but show little or no sign of illness. Although it's possible that
they are simply in the early stages of the disease, scientists may have to rethink ideas about the virus's lethality. It is possible that it was
deemed so lethal in Asia simply because mild cases went unnoticed.
ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 10 - Two young brothers, ages 4 and 5, who have tested positive for the dreaded A(H5N1) avian virus but shown no symptoms of the
disease were being closely watched at Kecioren Hospital here on Tuesday. Doctors are unsure whether they are for the first time seeing human bird flu
in its earliest stages or if they are discovering that infection with the A(H5N1) virus does not always lead to illness.
In any case, the highly unusual cluster of five cases detected here in Turkey's capital over the last three days - all traceable to contact with sick
birds - is challenging some of the doctors' assumptions about bird flu and giving them new insights into how it spreads and causes disease. Since none
of the five have died, it is raising the possibility that human bird flu is not as deadly as currently thought, and that many mild cases in Asian
countries may have gone unreported.
On the human side, the five cases in Ankara hospitals are different from those elsewhere in Asia. Four of the five display only mild symptoms, or no
symptoms at all. Also, although all five have had some recent contact with birds, Dr. Rodier said, they are people who live on the fringes of a major
city, not farmers or people who keep birds in their backyards.
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If the virus truly isn't as virulant as once thought, it could be good news or bad news. A less lethal virus might actually be more dangerous since
carriers or mildly sick people could possibly spread the infection far more than people who succumb quickly to the disease.