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China announces eighth bird flu death
Updated: 2006-02-11 09:39

China announced that a 20-year-old woman in the central province of Hunan had died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the virus to eight.

The victim, a farmer surnamed Long from Suining County, showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on January 27 after culling poultry raised in her home and died on February 4, the health ministry said, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Tests at a local disease control centre in Hunan and in China's national centre had shown Long to be positive for the H5N1 strain of the virus, Xinhua said.

Those who had come in close contact with Long had been placed under medical observation by local health authorities, the report said, adding that so far they had shown no abnormal symptoms.

The health ministry had reported the new case to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Xinhua said.

Long was the 12th human case of bird flu reported in China, eight of whom have died.

China has reported 34 outbreaks of the virus in poultry since the beginning of last year, with most occurring since October.

In the latest outbreak, reported this week, health authorities in north China's Shanxi province placed 35 people under observation after 15,000 fowl died of bird flu on the farm where they were working.

Experts fear the virus could mutate into a strain that could be transmitted easily among humans, circumstances that could cause a global pandemic that could kill millions of people.

The virus, already endemic in parts of Asia and Europe, spread to a third continent earlier this week when cases were discovered in birds in Nigeria.

A Chinese health ministry official, speaking before the latest death was confirmed, said earlier Friday that China had been unable to determine why most of its human bird flu cases had occurred in areas where no poultry outbreaks had been detected.

The health ministry this week announced China's 11th case in the southeastern province of Fujian.

As in seven of the previous reported infections, the 26-year-old woman fell ill in an area where the agriculture ministry had not detected the deadly virus among poultry, according to the WHO.

In four of these cases the health ministry later found the patients had close contacts with sick birds, although the agricultural ministry could still not determine a bird flu outbreak.
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