________________________________________________________________________ CDC sends team to probe Asian bird flu ____________________________________________________________________________ Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 Reuters ATLANTA(December 3, 1997 8:23 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - The Centers for Disease Control is sending a team of epidemiologists to Hong Kong Friday to investigate a strain of flu that usually afflicts birds but has infected humans for the first time. A CDC spokeswoman said the agency did not believe there was a link between the two flu victims, both children and both from Hong Kong. The likely source of the virus was chickens. "The only thing we know is they (the two flu cases) are not similar in terms of coming from the same source," Barbara Reynolds told Reuters Wednesday. She said Hong Kong had experienced a flu epidemic among ducks and chickens. The World Health Organization confirmed the second case of influenza A, strain H5N1 in a human Tuesday. That case involved a 2-year-old boy hospitalized in November who has since recovered. The first victim, a 3-year-old boy, died in May of complications associated with Reye's syndrome. Reynolds said the CDC has no records on whether the same strain of avian flu affects birds in other areas of the world. "We don't study animals unless they start messing with humans," she said. "Our concern here is to keep track of any new or emerging viruses that have undergone an antigenic shift." She said the CDC was vigilant about investigating new viruses and those that cross from animals into humans because "we have a world population not immune to them." Reynolds stressed there was no indication the avian virus has yet been transmitted by human-to-human contact, but the CDC epidemiologists would examine whether that could happen because of the potential for a pandemic, or worldwide flu epidemic.
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