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article imageNew 'H6N1' bird flu reported in Taiwan

By Tim Sandle     Dec 7, 2013 in Science
It has been revealed that a woman who was hospitalized in Taiwan after she developed a high fever, cough and shortness of breath, was the victim of a rare strain of 'bird flu'.
The 20-year-old woman in Taiwan is the first person known to be infected with a strain of bird flu called H6N1, according to a new report of the case. Tests confirmed that the woman had H6N1, a flu virus that's common in birds, but has never before been seen in people.
The woman was treated with the anti-viral medication oseltamivir (Tamiflu), and made a full recovery.
The infection remains unique. So far, there is no evidence that H6N1 can spread between people. Of the 125 cases of flu reported in Taiwan since the woman became ill, none were caused by H6N1. However, she worked in a deli, and did not have close contact with chickens or wild birds. Medics are puzzled over how the woman came to become infected with the strain of avian flu. Further studies are needed to better understand the potential threat posed by H6N1, including research that investigates how the virus passes from animals to people.
Other strains of bird flu can theoretically make the bird-to-person leap. For example, the Digital Journal reported that a newly discovered strain of bird flu (the H7N7 virus) has the potential to jump from chickens to mammals.
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