What's the Latest Development?
A 39-year-old bus driver living in Shenzhen, China, just across the border from Hong Kong, has died from a bird flu infection caused by the dangerous H5N1 virus. Curiously, he had had no contact with poultry in the month prior to getting sick, said officials. The region's newspaper reportedly separately that 120 people who had contact with the man had developed no signs of sickness. For Chinese disease authorities, this time of year is especially worrisome as millions of citizens travel home to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
What's the Big Idea?
World health officials say the H5N1 virus represents a potential disease pandemic should it mutate to become communicable from human to human through the air. That hasn't happened yet but World Health Organization officials have expressed public concern over research recently completed in the Netherlands which successfully turned the virus into an easily transmissable form. The American government has asked that scientific journals withhold publication of the research until a compromise if found.
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