China confirms new human case of bird flu
Updated: 2005-12-07 08:40
A 10-year-old girl in southern China has tested positive for the deadly H5N1
virus, the government said Tuesday, making her the country's fourth human bird
The girl, a student surnamed Tang, lives in Ziyuan County in south
China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, bordering Vietnam, Xinhua News
Agency said, citing the Health Ministry.
She has been sick with a
fever and pneumonia since November 23 and has undergone emergency treatment.
A man sanitizes a
corner at a village in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on December
4, 2005. [newsphoto]
Dead ducks were found in Dingdang, a town in Guangxi, in January 2004 ¡ª the
mainland's first case of bird flu. The region borders Vietnam, the country hit
hardest by the disease.
People who have had close contact with the girl have been under medical
observation, Xinhua said. So far, none has shown any symptoms, it said.
Last month, two farmers in the eastern province in Anhui, both women, died of
the disease after coming in contact with sick poultry.
A 9-year-old boy in central Hunan province also fell ill but recovered and
has been discharged from the hospital.
The virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 69 people in Asia
since 2003, mostly through contact with infected birds.
Experts have warned the virus could mutate and become more easily passed
between people, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions.
China has mounted an aggressive campaign to fight repeated bird flu epidemics
in poultry, which increase the potential risk of human cases. It is in sharp
contrast to the initial secrecy authorities used to handle an outbreak of severe
acute respiratory syndrome ¡ª or SARS ¡ª which emerged in Guangdong province in
Authorities have reported 25 bird flu outbreaks in poultry around China since
Oct. 19 and have killed and vaccinated tens of millions of chickens, ducks and
geese as a precaution.
Xinhua said the Guangxi Health Department and the Health Ministry have sent
experts to the region to "direct and coordinate disease prevention and control
in the area."
The source of the virus is under investigation since no bird flu outbreaks
have been reported in Ziyuan County, Xinhua said.
The World Health Organization said this week that China's public still needs
to be educated about how to spot early signs of bird flu in poultry to prevent a
spread of the disease among birds and people.
Three of China's four human cases have been found in areas where outbreaks of
bird flu were not reported.
This shows "there's still an issue of public awareness of what to look for
when chickens get sick," said Julie Hall, an expert in infectious diseases at
the WHO office in Beijing.