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China reports bird flu outbreak in Tibet, human death

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 19, 2008
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 had died of the deadly virus.

The agriculture ministry said 132 poultry had died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in a village outside the regional capital Lhasa and about 7,700 birds had been slaughtered to bring the outbreak under control.

It was the second outbreak of bird flu in the Himalayan region this year.

In January, about 1,000 birds died and 13,000 were slaughtered during an earlier outbreak in Gongga county, which lies about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Lhasa.

News of the latest outbreak, posted on the agriculture ministry's website, came shortly after Chinese authorities announced the country's 18th confirmed human bird flu fatality.

The health ministry late Monday confirmed that a 22-year-old man from Hunan province had died from the H5N1 strain.

The man, surnamed Li, developed a fever and headache on January 16 and was hospitalised on January 22. But his condition worsened and he died two days later, according to a statement posted on the health ministry's website.

China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said he had tested positive for the H5N1 strain. The ministry did not say how he might have contracted the disease.

The local government had put in place prevention and control measures and those who had close contact with Li were put under strict medical observation. So far, none had shown signs of the disease, the ministry said.

With the latest fatality, at least 18 people have been confirmed to 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.

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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