It's likely that the new H7N9 bird flu virus can spread through the air on a limited basis, according to a new study that looked at how the virus spreads in animals.
The study also provides more evidence that the virus can spread between people in close contact. However, it's unlikely the virus could cause a pandemic, unless it undergoes genetic changes that allow it to spread more efficiently between people, experts say.
According to the World Health Organization, as of May 17, health officials knew of 131 people in China who had fallen ill with the H7N9 virus , including 36 who died. Most of these cases — about 75 percent — were people who had direct contact with poultry.
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