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China Confirms New Human Case of Bird Flu

2006-06-17

A 31-year-old man in south China's Guangdong Province has been confirmed to have contracted bird flu, bringing the country's total human infections of the disease to 19, reported the Chinese Ministry of Health on Thursday. The patient, surnamed Jiang, is a migrant worker in Shenzhen City. He showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on June 3 and has been hospitalized ever since. He is now in critical condition, said the ministry in a report. Epidemiological research found Jiang had been to a local market, where live poultry were sold, several times before developing the symptoms. Jiang was tested H5N1 positive by the Shenzhen center for disease control and prevention (CDC) and the provincial and national CDCs. He has been confirmed to be infected with bird flu in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese government, said the ministry. The ministry has reported the new case to the WHO, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as several countries. Jiang was reported by the local health authorities as a suspected case of bird flu on Tuesday. All 98 people who had close contact with Jiang tested negative for the disease, according to the local health bureau. The health department in neighbouring Hong Kong on Tuesday warned the public to be vigilant against bird flu, while Macao announced on Wednesday it would halt the import of live poultry from Shenzhen. Jiang is the 19th human case of bird flu reported in China. Among the previous 18 cases, 12 have died. Globally, 225 human infections, including 128 deaths, have been recorded by the WHO, according to its official website. Health experts fear the bird flu virus would mutate into a form that can easily pass between people, causing a global pandemic. SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS The Chinese government is "keeping a close eye on bird flu and has strengthened scientific research and nationwide surveillance," said Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qun'an on Monday. A Shanghai-based company was approved Tuesday by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) to produce the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Tests showed the domestic Tamiflu was as effective and safe on humans as the imported version, said the SFDA. Tamiflu is an anti-viral drug which is considered the most effective treatment available to counter the H5N1 strain of bird flu. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that China has successfully developed three new bird flu vaccines and a new technology for diagnosing the disease. The three new vaccines include the reverse genetics inactivatedvaccine (H5N1), H5N1 recombinant fowlpox vaccine, and recombinant bivalent avian influenza-Newcastle disease live vaccine. If used together, the three vaccines "offer a solid technical guarantee for the Chinese government to effectively control the highly pathogenic avian influenza," the ministry said. The newly developed rapid diagnostic strip for detecting H5 bird flu virus can detect the virus in 10 minutes. WILD BIRDS TARGETED China has reported more than 30 outbreaks of the flu in birds since last October. The latest bird flu outbreak occurred in remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region early this month. China's chief veterinary officer Jia Youling on Thursday warned that bird flu is on the rise among migratory birds this year. A total of 1,168 migratory birds had been found dead in Qinghaiand Tibet by June 1. The disease was striking more species of wild birds than last year, Jiang said, noting that the agricultural ministry would target migration paths for future supervision, especially in areas with a record of infection. It will also study migration patterns of wild birds to prepare migration this autumn. The Ministry of Agriculture issued an emergency order on Monday for local governments to tighten controls over poultry stocks to prevent bird flu contamination by migratory birds, calling for strict supervision of areas below all possible flight paths of migratory birds, lakes and other sites with a record of bird flu infection. The ministry also ordered immediate reporting of any dead poultry or wild birds to county-level animal epidemic prevention agencies, and suspected cases must be reported to state-level bird flu laboratories. International Cooperation Meanwhile, the Chinese government was working closely with international organizations to fight bird flu. Last week, China joined in a pandemic response exercise in prevention and control of bird flu held by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is aimed to test the preparations of the organization's members in terms of information sharing, technological support and prevention of cross-border contamination. On Tuesday, a center was set up by China and the WHO to fight infectious diseases including influenza. The center, based in south China's Guangdong Province, will become a training base of southern provinces of China and may expand to become a training center for neighbouring countries, according to the WHO. It will also work with the Guangdong CDC laboratory to detect emerging infectious diseases and carry out epidemiological research and study the origin of diseases that can be transmitted from animals.

(Source:Xinhua News Agency, 2006-06-17)