( dpa ) - China's latest human bird-flu case was a result of human-to-human transmission but did not occur because of a mutation in the virus, the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.
Tests indicated that the 52-year-old man in the southern city of Nanjing was infected with H5N1, the strain of the virus that can be deadly in humans, through close contact with his son, 24, Xinhua said, citing health authorities.
The son, identified only by his surname Lu, died December 2, but his father, who became ill a day later, has recovered.
Human-to-human transmission of the disease is rare. Most patients contract it through close contact with infected poultry, but health experts said they fear the virus could mutate into a form that would be easily transmissible between people, creating a worldwide pandemic that could kill millions.
While officials had identified the source of the elder Lu's infection, how the younger man got it remained unclear, the Health Ministry said, adding that neither man had contact with sick or dead poultry.
Authorities had kept a close eye on 83 people who had close contact with the two men, but none developed bird-flu symptoms, the ministry said.
According to the World Health Organization, 216 people have died of bird flu in 12 countries in Asia and Africa. Seventeen of those have been in China, where a total of 27 infections have been reported since 2003