2 Dec 2009 10:40

Animal A/H1N1 virus could spread to humans - MoA

Shanghai. December 2. INTERFAX-CHINA - There is a possibility that the influenza A/H1N1 virus found in animals can spread to humans, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) announced on Dec. 1.

On Nov. 25, the veterinary hospital at China Agricultural University's College of Veterinary Medicine reported that two out of 52 samples taken from sick dogs tested positive for the A/H1N1 virus, marking the first time in China that the virus has been detected in dogs. Prior to this, the MoA's National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory also detected the virus on Nov. 19 in four samples taken from pigs in Heilongjiang Province.

According to the announcement, the A/H1N1 virus in the animal cases is 99 percent homologous with the virus strain found in human cases. While it shows no signs of mutation yet, it is likely that in the future the virus will mutate, spread between different animal species or even transmit to humans.

China reported a total of 178 A/H1N1 deaths as of Nov. 29. At present, the National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory has developed an A/H1N1 vaccine for animals as well as relevant diagnostic reagents while the MoA is in the midst of organizing experts to formulate animal A/H1N1 prevention and treatment plans.

As of Nov. 26, a total of 15 countries have detected cases of the A/H1N1 virus in animals such as pigs, turkeys, ferrets, cats and dogs.

- KZ