Soldier hospitalized with bird flu

Updated: 2007-05-26 13:59

China's Ministry of Health has confirmed a new human case of bird flu, the ministry announced on its website Saturday.

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A 19-year-old man surnamed Cheng, who is a soldier in the People's Liberation Army (PLA), is now receiving treatment at an army hospital, the ministry said.

A spokesman of the ministry declined to say in which part of the country Cheng was stationed or how he may have come in contact with the virus.

Cheng developed symptoms of fever, cough and pneumonia on May 9. He was sent to an army hospital on May 14 and has been hospitalized since then.

Tests by local Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 18 show that he had been infected with bird flu virus strain H5N1. The result was confirmed by Chinese and PLA CDCs on Wednesday.

The website did not indicate the status of Cheng's condition.

A geese vendor holds four geese with his hands in a poultry wholesale market in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, March 22, 2006. [Newsphoto]

The ministry said leaders of the State Council and the Central Committee of PLA were "highly concerned" by the case.

They have ordered the army to cooperate with local health bureau to closely monitor those who have had close contact with the patient. So far, none of them have shown symptoms of the disease.

According to the website, China's Health Ministry has conveyed the information to the World Health Organization, health agencies in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and some countries.

China has reported a total of 25 human cases of bird flu since 2003, which have caused 15 deaths.

On March 27, a 16-year-old boy in eastern Anhui Province died from the deadly virus. The cause of his infection is still unknown.

The Ministry of Health confirmed last August that the country's first human case of H5N1 bird flu virus occurred in November 2003. A 24-year-old man who died in Beijing in 2003, was initially thought to be suffering from SARS. Further laboratory tests later confirmed he died of human avian influenza.

The H5N1 bird flu virus is currently not very contagious, but experts fear it may mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.

Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company has been experimenting a bird flu vaccine and the State Food and Drug Administration approved in April a second phase of clinical trials.

In late April, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, began deliberating a draft amendment to the law on animal disease in order to prevent future animal epidemics.

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