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Unusual strain of bird flu kills two

April 2, 2013

HONG KONG — The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, is reporting that two people have died, and one person remains in critical condition, after succumbing to a strain of bird flu as yet undetected in humans, according to CNN.

All three victims presented with initial symptoms of fever and coughing that then developed into severe pneumonia and difficulty breathing, the article stated.

According to the article, a team of experts have established that the three cases were human infections of H7N9 avian influenza, which has previously not been found in humans.

"It's really important to understand where this virus is coming from," said Malik Peiris, a professor at Hong Kong University's School of Public Health.

Peiris believes the virus, already known to exist in wild birds, has been transmitted to poultry, which then infected the humans, the article noted.

Transmission of these types of viruses from animals to humans is typically "extremely inefficient," resulting in tens of thousands of infected birds for every human case, which means "it is very likely that there is a quite widespread outbreak happening" among the animals from which it came, “underscoring the urgent need to track down the source,” the article added.

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