Bird flu kills second woman in china

Bird flu kills second woman in china

A second Chinese woman infected with the bird flu virus died in Shandong province on Saturday 17 January, the second person to die from the virus ths year, and in the meantime a 2-year old girl is also confirmed to be infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu.

The victim, whose surname was Zhang, was a 27-year old woman from Jinan, the capital of the northern coastal province of Shandong; she fell ill on 5th January.

According to Xinhua, the state run news agency, the 2-year old toddler, who is from the northern province of Shanxi, and whose surname is Peng, fell ill on 7th January while visiting the more southerly province of Hunan and was taken back to Shanxi by her grandparents on the 11th. Local officials said yesterday that the child is in a critical condition and that 67 people who have been in contact with her have been kept under close observation but have not shown any symptoms of bird flu.

The Chinese national Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed yesterday, Sunday 18 January, that Zhang had contracted the H5N1 strain of the virus and the health authorities in Shandong province said that people who had been in close contact with her have undergone medical tests but none was found to have symptoms of bird flu, reported the state-run English newspaper China Daily.

The 19-year old woman who died earlier this month was from Beijing, and is thought to have contracted the virus from handling poultry bought at a market. The authorities have not said how the latest two victims are thought to have contracted the virus.

China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said yesterday that no bird flu epidemics were detected in Shanxi and Hunan following tests carried out in poultry farms and markets near to where the toddler had been. However, they urged local veterinary departments in the two provinces to increase checks on poultry markets and disinfect them thoroughly, reported Xinhua.

Poultry trading is usually brisk in the weeks leading up to Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, which this year falls on the 26th January, said the MOA, and coupled with the threat of frequent outbreaks in neighbouring countries it means China now faces a "grim situation" in bird flu prevention. It will be especially difficult to implement prevention measures at what Xinhua describes as "loosely managed household farms".

In the meantime, the nationwide network for testing of bird flu has been established following the death of the first woman in Beijing. Vice director of virus control and prevention at China's CDC, Shu Yuelong, told the state press that the network links up 63 labs in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. Another 21 new labs will follow over the course of this year, said Shu, adding that:

"Every lab has the ability to test and identify virus of avian influenza and some in provincial disease control centers are capable of analyzing the virus."

Worldwide, 394 laboratory confirmed cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu have been reported to the World Health Organization, including 248 deaths (WHO, 14 January). Experts believe that it is only a matter of time before the virus mutates into a form where it can pass from human to human, and when it does, there will be a worldwide pandemic that will kill millions of people. The more outbreaks that occur, the greater the opportunity for the virus to mutate.

At present people can only catch the virus from infected birds.

Click here for more information on Avian Influenza (WHO).

Sources: China Daily, Xinhua, WHO.

New strain of bird flu kills two people in China (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Disease