Bird flu scare in China as man dies of H5N1 virus

A bus driver in China on Saturday became the country’s first human casualty of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus in 18 months after he died in a hospital in the souther part of the nation.

The 39-year-old man surnamed Chen died of multiple organ failures at 1 pm (local time), the Department of Health of Guangdong said in a statement. Another 120 people who had contact with the driver have not reported any symptoms, the department said.

Chen was hospitalised for fever on December 21 and tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus in the Bao’an district of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, the department said.

The department said during the month prior to his fever, he had no direct contact with poultry and had not traveled out of the city, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on December 22 suspended supplies of live poultry to Hong Kong after a dead chicken tested positive in Hong Kong for the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

The discovery of the infected bird prompted Hong Kong’s health authorities to raise the city’s response level for bird flu from “alert” to “serious” and to cull more than 17,000 chickens at a poultry market where the infected carcass was found.

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