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Hunan girl's death 'not linked to bird'
By Wang Zhenghua and Tao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-28 05:41

"The Chinese Government has already taken ... decisive measures to prevent bird flu and to share information with the international community," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a regular news briefing yesterday.

Earlier, Premier Wen Jiabao said the government "was taking effective measures" to prevent the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu urged local governments to take strict measures to curb the disease when he visited farms in Southwest China's Chongqing on Wednesday.

French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said of the people being tested in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion: "The three travelled to Thailand and visited a bird zoo where they had come into contact with birds.

"Initial tests have been done there and these came out positive," he said.

In Hunan, the dead girl's father, He Tieguang, told China Daily yesterday that the family cooked the bird after two dozen chickens and ducks began dying of an unknown disease on October 6.

"In the next few days, my girl became weak and pale," said the farmer. The family took the girl to the local hospital only when she had a fever and cough.

After being shifted to several hospitals, she died in the intensive care unit of the children's hospital in Changsha, the provincial capital.

"Doctors said my girl died from lung infection, as X-rays showed her lungs were totally infected," the father said.

His son, who started showing flu-like symptoms only after the girl's death, was quarantined in the same hospital yesterday. The father said the boy was in a stable condition.

Following the outbreak, health workers sterilized the whole village and regularly tested the family's temperatures, the father said.

The poor farmer spent more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) on his children's treatment; and the hospital said he still owed 6,000 yuan (US$740).

A World Health Organization (WHO) official said yesterday that humans show pneumonia-like symptoms after they are infected with the bird-flu virus.

"But there's no evidence that humans can get infected through the air or eating properly cooked chicken," Alphaluck Bhatiasevi of the WHO Beijing Office said.

(China Daily 10/28/2005 page1)

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