(LONDON) “The chances of bird flu virus mutating into a form that spreads between humans are ‘very low’, the government’s chief scientific adviser has said.
Sir David King said any suggestion a global flu pandemic in humans was inevitable was ‘totally misleading’. No more wild birds have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain since a case was found in a swan in Fife last week.
Experts are still testing birds found near Cellardyke, and a UK helpline has had thousands of reports of dead birds. Speaking for the first time about the case, Scotland’s first minister Jack McConnell has defended the response, saying it had been ‘fast, effective and well coordinated’.
Two newspapers have printed details of government plans to cope in the event of a human pandemic. They include a leaked letter from Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson to Schools Minister Jacqui Smith – published in the Sunday Times – in which he suggested an estimated death toll among school children of 100,000 could be halved with school closures.
But a health spokesman said: ‘This is still a disease of birds, not humans.’One swan doesn’t mean [bird flu] has arrived here Sir David King
These sentiments were echoed by John Oxford, a professor of virology at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine, in London. He told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘We’re not expecting a human case from this swan – nor are we really expecting human cases from chickens.'”