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WHO plays down bird flu threat in China after three human deaths

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 27, 2008
There are no indications that bird flu is becoming a bigger problem in China despite the deaths of three people from the disease this year, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday.

"The three recent cases were not unexpected considering the winter season and the fact that we know the virus is still circulating in the environment," the WHO's representative in China, Hans Troedsson, said in a statement.

"WHO welcomes the capability of the surveillance system in China to detect these three isolated cases. We have no indications of any larger number of undetected cases."

The latest victim was a 44-year-old woman from Guangdong province in southern China who died on Monday after coming into contact with sick poultry.

The other two reported bird flu fatalities this year were a 41-year-old man who died in China's southern Guangxi region on February 20 and a 22-year-old man in Hunan province who died on January 24.

Since bird flu re-emerged in 2003, 20 people in China have died of the disease while another 10 contracted it but survived.

Avian flu mainly kills birds, but scientists fear it could mutate to easily jump from human to human, sparking a global pandemic.

China is regarded as a potential flashpoint in this regard because it has the world's biggest number of poultry, with tens of millions of chickens reared in densely populated rural areas where epidemic controls remain spotty.

More than 230 people have died of bird flu worldwide, according to the WHO.

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Death of woman confirmed bird flu related: China health ministry
Beijing (AFP) Feb 26, 2008
China's health authorities confirmed Tuesday that a woman in southern China had died after contracting bird flu, as the nation further reported an epidemic among animals in its southwest.

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