Suspected bird flu patient dies in Guangdong

Updated: 2008-02-25 15:46

A woman in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, suspected of having bird flu, has died, the Guangdong health authorities said on Monday, the fourth human death from the virus in China since late last year.

The 44-year-old migrant worker, surnamed Zhang, was working in Haifeng county in the eastern part of Guangdong, where she had contact with dead poultry. She died after developing fever and a cough.

"The patient's condition was too serious and she died on Monday after treatment failed," said a statement on the website of Guangdong's health department.

The woman tested positive for H5N1 in a test conducted by Guangdong's Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which has asked the Health Ministry to confirm the result.

The latest case follows two confirmed deaths from bird flu in China this year, one in central Hunan province and the other in the southern region of Guangxi. In December, a man in the eastern province of Jiangsu also died from the disease.

The spate of cases is a concern for a country that has the world's biggest poultry population, many of them backyard birds roaming free. China has struggled to combat the virus with mass inoculations for birds and an education campaign for those who handle them.

Zhang developed symptoms of fever, cough and pneumonia on February 16, but was only admitted to the county hospital on February 22, after first seeking treatment at a local clinic, the Guangdong statement said.

There was no sign of further cases of the virus that scientists fear could mutate into a form that can pass easily between people, sparking a global pandemic.

"All those who have had close contact with the patient have shown no similar symptoms so far," the statement said.

Of the 29 cases confirmed to date in China, 19 have been fatal.

According to WHO data, there have been 232 human deaths globally from the H5N1 strain and 366 confirmed cases of infection since 2003.

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