Hong Kong's newly-discovered "bird" flu bug, which has kiled a
three-year-old boy, poses "no major threat" to public health, a
government health official said Monday.
T. A. Saw, deputy director of Hong Kong's Department of Health,
told reporters at the end of a joint investigation into the virus,
codenamed H5NI, that "from the information we have at present, it
appears that it is of no major public health risks."
"There is no need for undue concerns or to take measures," said
An international team of medical experts was called in from the
Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control on behalf of the World
Health Organisation to assist in the investigation.
The team completed their investigations over the weekend and was
urgently working to find a cure for the virus, which was previously
only found in poultry.
Hong Kong officials have extended the search to China for the
killer "bird flu" virus, which had not been previously seen in
The three-year-old boy died in May from a range of medical
complications but it was only last month, after laboratory tests
were conducted in the United States and Europe, that his death was
pinned to the new strain of flu virus.
Flu is notorious for mutating into new types of virus, a
phenomenon which makes vaccination only partly effective.
The world's worst flu outbreak was in 1918-19, which killed an
estimated 20 million people.
The last time a new flu strain broke out in Hong Kong was in
1968, which killed 45 people.
The virus has reportedly been named "Hong Kong 1997" in order to
differentiate the virus from a previous strain, popularly called
"Hong Kong flu," that broke out here in 1968.
Medical tradition requires a new strain of virus to be named
after the country where it was found.