Bird flu less deadly, but more widespread, than official numbers suggest

Survey finds 1 to 2 percent infection rate in affected populations

By Tina Hesman Saey, 15:12 PM February 23, 2012

The deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus may not be quite so lethal after all, an analysis of more than 12,000 blood samples suggests.

Since 2003, the World Health Organization has recorded 573 cases of humans infected with bird virus. Of those, 58.6 percent have died, leading to great concern that the virus could cause a devastating pandemic if it adapts to spread easily among humans.

But many more people may have contracted the virus and fought it off with few or no symptoms, suggest Peter...

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