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New human cases of bird flu

10th January 2007

15032006_H5N1.jpgThree new human cases of bird flu have been reported; one in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui, and two in Indonesia.

The 37-year-old Chinese farmer tested positive for the virulent H5N1 strain of influenza, which has killed 157 people worldwide since the outbreak began in 2003, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The man, surnamed Li, developed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on 10 December and was discharged from hospital on 6 January in Tunxi, Anhui Province, after a full recovery," the agency said.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Monday that Li had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain.

The Anhui provincial health department reported the case on Tuesday and it has already reported it to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and relevant information had also been conveyed to the health agencies of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, the health ministry was quoted as saying.

Local health authorities told Xinhua that those who had had close contact with the patient had been released from medical observation. The ministry said no animal bird flu cases were reported in the area and local authorities were closely monitoring the situation, the agency reported.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's Ministry of Health has reported an additional two cases of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus to the WHO.

The first case was a 14 year-old boy from West Jakarta, who developed symptoms on 31 December 2006 and remains in hospital, the WHO said in a statement on its website. "Deaths among poultry in the neighbourhood have recently been reported. The source of exposure is currently under investigation," the statement said.

The second case was a 37 year-old woman from Tangerang, Banten Province. She developed symptoms on 1 January and remains in intensive care. Initial investigations suggest sick poultry as the possible source of infection, the WHO said.

Of the 76 human cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 57 have been fatal.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread across Asia and the Middle East to Africa, sparking mass poultry slaughter wherever it is found. Experts fear a global pandemic could kill millions if the virus mutates into a form that is easily spread among humans.

Bird flu has also been confirmed in a fourth Vietnamese province after tests on 70 ducks showed they had died from H5N1.

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