China reports 19th human case of bird flu

16-06-2006 | |

China yesterday confirmed that a 31-year-old man from the southern economic boom town of Shenzhen bordering Hong Kong is critically ill in hospital, in the country’s 19th human case of H5N1 bird flu.

The man had visited a local market where live poultry was sold several times before he became ill, according to the Ministry of Health. Authorities have placed people who were in close contact with the man under medical observation but none had so far shown any symptoms.

Twelve of the previous human H5N1 cases reported by China have been fatal.

The latest case triggered alarm bells across the border in Hong Kong, which has placed a three-week ban on poultry imports from the mainland.

More than 120 people worldwide have died from bird flu since it re-emerged as a threat in 2003, with most of the victims in Asia.

Humans are believed to contract the virus mainly from direct contact with infected animals. Scientists fear a global pandemic if the virus mutates and becomes easily transmissible between humans.

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