The recent family cluster of H5N1 avian influenza cases in Indonesia marks the first time laboratory tests confirmed human-to-human transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) told reporters today. According to news reports, WHO officials said the virus mutated slightly when it infected a 10-year-old boy, and he passed the altered virus on to his father. Detection of the altered strain in both the boy and his father was evidence of direct transmission. The mutation did not make the virus more transmissible, and the boy’s father, who died of the illness, did not pass it on to anyone else, WHO officials were quoted as saying. ‘We’ve never really had a fingerprint to confirm human-to-human transmission like we had here,’ said WHO spokesman Dick Thompson, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP) today. Human-to-human transmission has been suspected in a number of previous family case clusters but has never been confirmed by lab tests. Previously, either there were no samples available to test, or the virus in the patients was the same as in local poultry, according to an International Herald Tribune report today. The family cluster last month in North Sumatra involved seven confirmed cases, six of […]

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