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Bird Flu Mutation of Concern
Wed Jan 11 2006 22:14:29 ET

Preliminary tests show that the strain of bird flu virus that has hit at least 15 people in Turkey has evolved in a way that could make it somewhat more hazardous to human beings, the WASHINGTON POST is reporting on Thursday.

The analysis, based on the sequencing of one of the virus's genes, suggests that at least some of the H5N1 bird flu virus here carries a change in one of its proteins, according to Michael Perdue of the World Health Organization. That protein is what lets the virus attach to cells and penetrate them.

``It's a little concerning because the virus is still trying new things in its evolution,' said Perdue, who is overseeing the agency's response to the Turkish outbreak from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Influenza experts are studying the apparent change to determine its significance, Perdue said. A spokesman for Britain's Medical Research Council, which is involved in the research, said it would take a few days to confirm the preliminary findings.


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