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Bird Flu Death Spurs Further Monitoring

The surveillance of poultry and migratory birds in Guangdong Province has been strengthened following the confirmation this week of the death of a woman from bird flu, local authorities said on Wednesday.

The 44-year-old woman, surnamed Zhang, from the Haifeng County of Shanwei, died in hospital on Monday, after developing symptoms of the virus on Feb 16.

A blood test taken at the Guangdong center for disease control and prevention confirmed she had contracted the deadly H5N1 strain.

On Tuesday, agricultural and forestry authorities in Shanwei and Haifeng carried out emergency vaccinations of poultry and disinfected farmyards near the home of the dead woman, the Guangdong agricultural department said.

The department has also distributed tens of thousands of liters of disinfectant to poultry farms and markets in Shanwei to aid the cleanup effort.

Eighty-three people are known to have had contact with Zhang, all of who are being closely observed by local doctors. None has shown any sign of the virus, Yu said.

Also on Tuesday, the provincial forestry bureau issued an emergency notice demanding the tighter monitoring of migratory birds.

Under the measure, all areas in which such birds congregate will be placed under strict observation. The areas will be off limits to all people except inspectors, the bureau said.

The department has also ordered all zoos, safari parks and circuses in the province to vaccinate all birds and disinfect their living areas.

Zhong Nanshan, an expert on infectious respiratory diseases, said: "The death of the woman in Shanwei is an isolated case. It does not mean bird flu has broken out in the province.

"However, respiratory tract diseases spread easily at this time of year, so people should be on high alert to bird flu and other infections."

(China Daily February 28, 2008)

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