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More Cases of Bird Flu in Humans

by 5m Editor
27 January 2012, at 7:45am

CHINA - A 39-year-old male infected with H5N1 bird flu virus died on Sunday in southern China, according to China's Ministry of Health.

This is the second victim of the disease in the past month, after the death of a bus driver in Canton province, which happened on 31 December.

The unidentified man was admitted to a hospital in the province of Guizhou, where, according to an informed regional health department, his condition deteriorated at a rapid rate.

This accounts for 28th death resulting from bird flu in China since 2003, a total of 42 human cases, reports the BBC.

The extraordinary thing about the last two deaths, however, is that according to health authorities, neither of the two individuals had contact with poultry, the primary source of the virus.

So far, majority of H5N1 infections in humans have resulted from direct or indirect contact with infected birds and the virus has failed to spread between humans.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), "The primary risk factor for the infection appears to be human, directly or indirectly, exhibited by live or dead animals or contaminated environments."

Regional health authorities said the man who died in Guizhou province reported having no contact with birds before the appearance of the symptoms.

Even the victim of the province of Canton, reported having had no contact with birds in the month prior to his illness, officials said.

As H5N1 has the potential to cause severe illness in humans, the virus is a serious threat. Health experts fear for the public because it is able to mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person, which can cause a million deaths.

There were also reports of human cases this month in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Indonesia, but in these cases, all victims made contact with birds.

Due to the enormous population of birds and the way in which animals are kept in close contact with humans, China is at higher risk of bird flu.

However, the authorities have ruled out any risk.

According to WHO, since 2003 the disease has killed 344 of the 583 people who have been infected worldwide.

Further Reading

- You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.