The saving grace for the Bird-Flu virus, if there is one, has been that up to now it has passed only from infected poultry, to a fairly limited number of humans.
The reason for this is that the crossing over of the species barrier for the H5N1 virus in its current form, from birds to humans has been not easy.
However, H5N1 like all Flu viruses is constantly mutating and the fear has been, that sooner or later it will mutate to a form that will make it easy for it to jump from the birds to the humans.
That would change the current H5N1 virus in to a new form of a human super flu virus, similar to the 1918 Super Flu virus which had produced the devastating Flu Pandemic at that time, with more than 50 Million fatalities.
That is why, each time there is a human death resulting from the H5N1, the source of the infection is carefully located and up to now, infected poultry has been found to be the culprit in each case.
Although there have been from time to time some rumors of human to human infection, these have never been confirmed.
So it is understandable that there has been a growing sense of panic in the medical circles in the case of the latest Indonesian Bird-Flu fatality.
The problem is that according to the Indonesian agriculture ministry, the victim, a six years old boy from Cilegon in Banten province just west of the capital Jakarta, who died of bird flu last weekend, had no apparent contact with poultry!
Memed Zulkarnaen, director of the agriculture ministry’s bird flu unit, said no infected poultry had been found within a radius of up to 300 metres (yards) from the boy’s home.
“The Indonesian medical community is still puzzled and does not understand from which source the victim was infected with the bird flu virus,” he told AFP.
“We are puzzled because the H5N1 virus needs to ‘stick’ to an object such as poultry and cannot freely circulate in the air,” he said.
Asked whether there was a possibility the boy had contracted the virus from another person, Zulkarnaen said it was too premature to tell and investigations involving personnel from the UN’s health and agriculture agencies were ongoing.
So how did the boy get the dreaded virus infection?
Did he sneak out and played around with infected poultry without any one knowing about it?
If not then could it be that the H5N1 has now mutated enough for it to infect humans in some other way?
Watch this space for the answer to this and many other mysteries of life.
Here is the news link to the news item from ANTARA:
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