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. China reports bird flu death

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 21, 2008
A man has died of bird flu in southern China, the health ministry said Thursday, the second death in the country from the deadly disease in a month.

The 41-year old man, identified only by his surname Liang, died in a hospital in the Guangxi autonomous region on February 20 after falling ill six days earlier, the ministry said in a report on its website.

Central government laboratory tests on a specimen taking from the man confirmed Wednesday that Liang had been stricken by the H5N1 strain of the virus, it said.

The local health department in the man's hometown of Nanning city said Liang had been in contact with dead poultry in his home before becoming sick.

Epidemic control measures in Nanning, the regional capital of Guangxi, have been implemented and people who had close contact with the deceased have been placed under observation for bird flu symptoms, it said.

It was not immediately clear if any outbreaks of bird flu among poultry have been reported in the Guangxi region.

Chinese authorities on Tuesday reported a fresh bird flu outbreak among poultry in Tibet, a day after confirming a 22-year-old man in central China's Hunan province had died of the virus in late January.

With the latest fatality, at least 19 people have died of bird flu in China. Ten other patients recovered.

China's previous fatal case was a 24-year-old man in the eastern province of Jiangsu who died in December.

While the disease is usually associated with contact with infected birds, China has a widespread poultry vaccination programme and only one confirmed human bird flu case has followed a matching outbreak in poultry.

H5N1 has killed more than 200 people and ravaged poultry flocks worldwide since 2003, according to the World Health Organisation.

Scientists fear the virus will eventually mutate into a form that is much more easily transmissible between humans, triggering a global pandemic.

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