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New China bird flu case raises human-to-human fear

BEIJING (AFP) - The father of China's latest bird flu victim also has the disease, officials said Friday, prompting World Health Organisation (WHO) fears of possible human-to-human transmission.

A Chinese health ministry statement said a 52-year-old man named Lu in the eastern city of Nanjing had the H5N1 strain, which killed his son on Sunday and has reportedly caused more than 200 deaths worldwide since 2003.

The WHO in Geneva said there were three possible explanations for the father-son case: either they were infected by the same animal, by transmission between them, or by exposure to two different infected animals.

The deadly H5N1 strain has passed from human to human only in very rare cases but scientists fear that such transmission could become more efficient and widespread through mutation, causing a global pandemic.

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