Analysis of samples of the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/21/97/385/16017_birdflu.html' target=_blank>H5N1 bird flu virus from two of its victims in Turkey has detected a change in one gene in one of two samples tested, but it is too early to tell whether the mutation is important, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
The mutation, which allows the virus to bind to a human cell more easily than to a bird cell, is a shift in the direction of the virus being able to infect people more easily than it does now. However, that does not mean the mutation has taken root.
"We assume this could be one small step in the virus' attempt to adapt to humans," said WHO virologist Mike Perdue. "But it's only seen in one isolate and it's difficult to make sweeping conclusions. We just have to wait and see what the rest of the viruses (from Turkey) look like."