A test for a deadly new strain of bird flu has been developed by Australian scientists.

The H7N9 strain has killed at least 32 people and infected over 130, mainly in China, with one reported case in Taiwan.

Pathology Queensland has modified an existing bird flu test to specifically detect the new strain in throat swabs or breath samples taken from patients suspected of having the virus.

The result is then confirmed with further analysis.

Professor Graeme Nimmo, director of microbiology Pathology Queensland, says the test is an essential part of being prepared for any potential bird flu pandemic.

"It allows cases to be detected very rapidly, enabling treatment to commence in as short a possible time, limiting the spread of the disease and the impact on the community," he said in a statement.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg applauded the work of local pathologists in helping to protect communities.


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