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Hunan woman falls foul of bird flu

Editor:Sharon Lee
Updated:2009/2/2 10:19:44

  A 21-year-old woman from Hunan province has been confirmed as having bird flu, the local health bureau said over the weekend.

  She is the eighth case to be reported this year, with five people having died from the virus. Just three infections were reported last year.

  The woman, a farmer surnamed Shu from Huaihua, had been in close contact with poultry that had died from the flu and became sick on Jan 23, the bureau said.

  On Jan 20, a 16-year-old boy, also from Huaihua, died after contracting the H5N1 strain of the virus.

  Shu was initially admitted to a county hospital, but is now being treated in Changsha, the provincial capital, the bureau said yesterday.

  She was confirmed as having the H5N1 strain on Friday, following tests by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  Provincial authorities are doing all they can to contain the virus and anyone who has been in contact with Shu has been put under observation.

  The Ministry of Health said it has reported the case to the World Health Organization and informed authorities in Hong Kong and Macao.

  Bird flu returned to the headlines during the Spring Festival holiday after the death last Monday of an 18-year-old man from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

  Three other people - a 19-year-old woman from Beijing, a 27-year-old woman from Shandong and a 31-year-old woman from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region - also died of the flu last month.

  On Saturday, health authorities in Hong Kong discovered three dead ducks and geese suspected of having been killed by the H5N1 virus.

  Shu Yuelong, a bird flu expert with the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said earlier that although there is no evidence of a bird flu epidemic, the situation is serious.

  Since the first reported infection in China in 2003, 38 people have contracted the disease and 25 have died.

  The WHO said there have been more than 400 infections and 254 deaths from bird flu worldwide, with most of the fatalities being in Asia.

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