Claims in an international scientific journal that a new bird flu variant is
prevalent in China, and that it has been transmitted to neighbouring countries,
have been refuted by Chinese scientists.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and two leading bird flu control
experts are scheduled to hold a news conference Friday to rebut the findings of
a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the
United States last week.
The paper, "Emergence and predominance of an H5N1 influenza variant in
China," claimed that a previously unidentified H5N1 variant, called H5N1
Fujian-like strain, was found in almost all poultry outbreaks; and caused recent
human infections in southern China.
The study, by US and Hong Kong researchers, also claimed that the new strain
of the virus has resulted in an outbreak in Southeast Asia.
"I have read the article and found its viewpoints and conclusion on the
'Fujian-like variant' lack scientific evidence," Director of the National Avian
Influenza Reference Laboratory Chen Hualan said.
"The so-called 'Fujian-like variant' is by no means a new variant. It is
highly homogeneous to the H5N1 subtype virus isolated in Hunan and other
provinces during a bird flu outbreak in early 2004," she told China Daily in an
The Ministry of Agriculture isolated only one new mutated virus strain of
avian influenza during a surveillance campaign earlier this year in Shanxi
Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in northern China, but no new virus
was discovered in southern China, she said.