China tests poultry worker for bird flu
Updated: 2005-11-13 10:20
China tested an ill poultry worker for bird flu on Saturday, and Vietnam
reported two new outbreaks of the virus.
The Chinese woman was hospitalized with a 102 degree fever in Liaoning
province in the northeast, which has suffered four bird flu outbreaks in
poultry, news reports said. She was among 121 people who fell ill in Liaoning's
Heishan County with fevers and flu-like symptoms this week, the Xinhua News
Agency and local newspapers said. Health workers determined the other 120
patients do not have bird flu.
On Friday, China announced two new outbreaks of bird flu — one in Liaoning
and one in the central province of Hubei.
China has not yet had a case of bird flu in humans from the deadly H5N1
strain, which has devastated poultry flocks across Asia since 2003 and jumped to
humans, killing at least 64 people. Two-thirds of the human deaths have been in
Most of the people infected have had contact with sick birds. But experts
fear the deadly virus could mutate into one that is easily passed from human to
human, raising fears of a global pandemic.
Two more provinces in Vietnam reported bird flu outbreaks, bringing to nine
the total number of affected provinces, officials said Saturday.
In the northern province of Hung Yen, about 150 poultry died and more than
300 have been destroyed, the National Animal Health Department said on its Web
site. Hung Yen province borders the capital Hanoi.
In Ninh Binh province, poultry began dying in two villages earlier this week
and tests Friday confirmed the birds had the H5N1 strain, said Doan Thi Cuc, a
provincial animal health officer.
Authorities have ordered the destruction of all birds in the two infected
areas, about 10,000 in total, she said. In the past month, more than 130,000
poultry have been culled throughout the country as Vietnam battles to stop the
spread of the virus.
Experts now say human illness from bird flu in China is virtually inevitable
with repeated outbreaks in poultry.
Liaoning province has suffered repeated outbreaks despite sweeping efforts
that include the destruction of more than 6 million chickens, ducks and other
poultry in recent weeks. Officials say fake vaccines are being sold there,
raising the possibility that millions of inoculated birds might be susceptible
to the virus.
In Indonesia, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said such mass culling
was too costly and disruptive for his government and might be unnecessary.
Bird flu is endemic in flocks across Indonesia and has killed at least five
people this year. But the country has resisted calls to destroy birds, saying
its strategy of distributing vaccines and spraying disinfectant at farms was
In Japan, the Health Ministry has warned that Tamiflu — one of the few
antiviral drugs believed to be effective against bird flu — can induce strange
behavior, following the deaths of two teenagers who took the medicine.
A 17-year-old high school student from jumped in front of a truck in February
2004 shortly after taking the medicine, the Mainichi newspaper and Kyodo News
agency reported. Another student is believed to have fallen from the ninth floor
of his apartment building this February.
The drug's Japanese distributor, Chugai Pharmaceutical, issued a report to
the Health Ministry after the first incident saying a link between taking the
drug and the odd behavior that led to the death cannot be ruled out, the
Tamiflu carries a label in Japan warning of such side effects as "abnormal
behavior" and "hallucinations."