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China Confirms New Human Bird Flu Case

China's Ministry of Health on Monday confirmed a human case of H5N1 bird flu in the central Hunan Province.

A 22-year-old man surnamed Li in Jianghua County, Yongzhou City, suffered fever and headache on January 16 and was hospitalized on January 22. His symptoms worsened despite treatment.

Li died at 5:00 pm on January 24 after all rescue measures failed.

His specimens tested positive for the bird flu virus strain H5N1, said the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The report didn't identify how he might have contracted the disease.

The virus is most commonly passed from sick poultry to humans who have close contact with infected birds.

Statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show there have been 18 human deaths from the H5N1 strain, and 28 confirmed cases of infection in China since 2003.

By February 1, of the total of cases of confirmed human bird flu infections worldwide, 225 have been fatal.

The local government undertook prevention and control measures once the case was reported. Those who had close contact with Li were put under strict medical observation. So far, none have shown signs of the disease, the ministry said.

The case has been reported to the WHO, authorities in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and some foreign governments.

The latest confirmed case of human bird flu took place in the worst snow-stricken province of Hunan, where prolonged low temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow have caused blackouts and traffic chaos.

On February 15, the Ministry of Health said that no cases of infectious epidemic or mass food poisoning were reported in China's snow-stricken areas by February 14, and that the death toll caused by infectious diseases in the snow-stricken areas showed no year-on-year increase in the past month.

(Xinhua News Agency February 19, 2008)

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