China reports eight cases of mutated swine flu

08:18, November 26, 2009      

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Eight people in China have been detected with mutated versions of swine flu, but doctors claim drugs are still effective against the new strains.

Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Centre, said the first mutated strain of the (A)H1N1 virus was detected in June in a case imported from Britain and a similar strain was detected three months later in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

Scientists fear that mutations in swine flu viruses could cause more virulent and deadly pandemic flu.

"This kind of mutant virus has been found in patients with slight and heavy symptoms as well as those who have recovered. The virus has not widely spread so far," Yu Hongjie, an expert from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Xinhua News Agency.

The World Health Organization said Friday that a mutation had been found in samples of the swine flu virus taken following the first two deaths from the pandemic in Norway.

It said a similar mutation had been observed in Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Ukraine, and the United States, AFP quoted the WHO source as saying.

However, it stressed that the mutation did not appear to cause a more contagious or more dangerous form of A(H1N1) influenza. Hong Kong's health department has reported one case of the Norwegian mutation, in a young boy.

China has reported 53 deaths out of nearly 70,000 confirmed swine flu cases.

Worldwide, up to 6,800 people have died from swine flu out of more than half a million cases reported since the virus was first uncovered in Mexico and the United States in April, according to WHO figures.The WHO estimates that some 250,000 to 500,000 people die every year from standard seasonal variants of swine flu.

People's Daily Online-Agencies
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