HANOI, May 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Bird flu virus strain H5N1 has yet to change into a new form that allows human-to-human transmission, but there is still a risk of mutation, according to local newspaper Saigon Liberation on Friday.
"The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently sent us results of tests on specimens from Vietnamese bird flu patients. Accordingly, H5N1 virus in Vietnam has not mutated," the report quoted Vietnam's National Hygiene and Epidemiology as saying.
However, the institute expressed concerns that there will be a change in the virus's genes, though slight.
According to Vietnam's National Steering Committee on Bird flu Prevention, the disease, between December 2004 and mid-April, appeared in 670 communes of 36 cities and provinces, killing and leading to the forced culling of more than 470,000 chickens, 825,000 ducks and 551,000 quails, and causing an estimated loss of 500billion Vietnamese dong (31.8 million US dollars).
"The Ministry of Health (of Vietnam) has reported to WHO that 41 cases from 18 cities and provinces have been detected in Vietnam since mid-December 2004. Of these cases, 16 have died and six remain under treatment," the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement in mid-April.
The ministry has provided WHO with official confirmation of an additional eight human cases of H5N1 avian influenza, the organization said, noting that two of the cases were recently detected, between April 2 and April 8, in the northern provinces of Hung Yen and Ha Tay, respectively. Both patients are alive. Theother six cases are thought to have been detected prior to April 2. Enditem