A more aggressive form of swine flu could soon spread around the globe after signs the virus had begun to mutate, experts in Germany have warned.
Germany’s federal agency for infectious diseases, the Robert Koch Institute, is concerned about how the H1N1 swine flu virus is developing in Australia and South America.
Joerg Hacker, who heads the institute, said: “It’s possible the virus has mutated. In autumn the mutated form could spread to the northern hemisphere and back to Germany.”
Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised swine flu to pandemic status. More than 230 people have been killed by the flu worldwide from 52,000 confirmed cases, mostly in the US and Mexico.
So far the symptoms seen in swine flu victims have been fairly mild, but experts predict the virus could evolve into something more aggressive.
Dr Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said at present the virus was “pretty stable”, but the possibility of it mixing with the H5N1 bird flu virus found in poultry could see a much more deadly form produced.
Copyright Press Association 2009