The 19-year-old soldier, who was diagnosed with avian bird flu on May 18, has
died, after a group of medical experts failed to save him from physical
deterioration, confirmed the Information Office of Chinese Ministry of Health on
Tuesday in a fax statement to chinadaily.com.cn.
The soldier, surnamed Cheng, was serving in the People's Liberation Army
(PLA), but the Information Office declined to say in which area of the country
Cheng was stationed, or how he may have come in contact with the virus, citing
People who had close contact with Cheng have not developed any clinical
abnormalties. The office added medical observations of these people have
"People who had come into close contact with the victim have not shown any
manifestations (of bird flu) so the medical observations have been lifted," the
ministry statement said.
According to earlier reports, Cheng developed a fever, cough and pneumonia on
May 9. He was sent to an army hospital on May 14 and remained there until he
According to the WHO Beijing Office, the soldier died on Sunday, but the
Health Ministry did not provide a specific date.
Joanna Brent, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the WHO, said the health body
was not concerned about an epidemic, according to an AFP report.
"This is the third case in China this year. Three individual cases in a
country of more than a billion people is not a cause for alarm," she said.
Brent praised China's prompt reporting of avian influenza outbreaks.
"We have been pretty comfortable with the reporting of recent cases," she
"There is nothing to suggest that there is an increased threat to
humans. However, obviously the virus is still present in China, and we need to
remain vigilant," she said.
Tests by the local Center for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) on May 18 showed that he was infected with the H5N1 strain
of the bird flu virus. The CDC and the State confirmed the result on May 20.
Since 2003, China has reported 25 human cases of bird flu, which have led to
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.
Another reported human cases of bird flu this year was Li Yinxiu, a farmer in
Fujian, who had developed symptoms after coming in contact with dead poultry.
She had been discharged On May 29 from the hospital after three months of
The Ministry of Health confirmed last August that the country's first human
case of H5N1 bird flu virus had 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 had died of avian influenza.
The H5N1 bird flu virus is rare for humans to get from animals, but experts
fear it could mutate into a form that could easily spread among people,
potentially sparking a pandemic.
Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company is experimenting with
a bird flu vaccine, and in April, the State Food and Drug Administration
approved the second phase of clinical trials of the vaccine.