Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Bird flu suspected after death of Chinese researcher

NEW DEATHS?A man who was conducting a survey in a market and a three-year-old boy are thought to be the latest victims of the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian virus


A man who died in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong may have had the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Hong Kong government said.

The territory's Department of Health received notification of the 32-year-old man's death from China's Ministry of Health and Guangdong Province health officials on Friday, the government said in a statement.

The man, who lived in Guangzhou City -- just across the border from Hong Kong -- developed fever and pneumonia on Feb. 22 and died on March 2, the statement, released late on Friday, said.

The man had repeatedly visited a local produce market to carry out a survey and had spent a long time near the area where chickens were slaughtered, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing preliminary investigations.

People who had come into close contact with the man had been isolated for medical tests, and the places where he stayed have been disinfected, Xinhua said.

Samples have been sent to a national laboratory for confirmation and the results are expected in a few days, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Health told Hong Kong's RTHK radio station.

Meanwhile, a three-year-old Indonesian boy died earlier this week of suspected bird flu, a health official said yesterday, citing results from local tests.

The boy died on Tuesday at a hospital in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang, said health ministry official Hariyadi Wibisono.

Samples from the boy have been sent to a Hong Kong laboratory accredited by the WHO for confirmation, the official said.

If confirmed, the boy would be Indonesia's 21st bird flu fatality.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, has confirmed 20 human fatalities from the H5N1 virus.

Most of the victims have come from Jakarta and the surrounding areas but infected birds have been found in 26 of Indonesia's 33 provinces.

Earlier this week, a brother and sister died in Central Java Province after being treated for symptoms of avian influenza, a doctor said. Tests were being conducted to determine whether they died of the virus.

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