The avian virus, known as the ‘bird flu,’ is said to be able to remain active in 70 degrees Celsius below zero, and to have a mortality rate in humans of over 75 percent.
Dr. Lance Jennings, a virus specialist in New Zealand, said Wednesday that the strain of avian virus (H5N1) found in Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam could produce a mortality rate of over 75 percent when in humans, the New Zealand media reported.
Dr. Jennings has been doing research with the World Health Organization (WHO) to find a preventive vaccine.
Even if a vaccine is found, though, Jennings said that there are too many people to vaccinate, and the best policy now is to slaughter all infected chickens and ducks.
Professor Leo Pun, a viral expert at Hong Kong University, said, ‘The H5N1 virus can live for years in conditions where the temperature is 70 degrees Celsius under zero,’ and called for a thorough inspection into the frozen chicken and duck meat circulating in the market.
‘There is a high probability of human infection if a person is in direct contact with infected poultry, but if the meat is well cooked, the virus can be killed,’ he added.
Changhopai, a medical advisor to Hong Kong’s Department of Health, said Wednesday in an interview with Ming Pao Daily News, ‘If it is found that bird flu is can be passed from person to person, 300,000 people could die in Hong Kong alone.’
WHO has stated, however, that there is no evidence of the bird flu being contagious among humans, and that it is difficult to calculate a death rate, as there is hardly any accurate statistical data.
At a bird flu crisis meeting held in Bangkok on Wednesday, representatives from countries where the bird flu has been discovered, including Korea, China, Japan, and Vietnam, agreed to set up cooperative inspection policies and to oppose travel restrictions.