It was confirmed by the Chinese Ministry of Health on Tuesday
that the country's first human case of H5N1 bird flu occurred in
A letter written by eight Chinese scientists and published on
June 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine said the
bird flu virus was isolated in a 24-year-old man who died in
Beijing in 2003.
The man, surnamed Shi, became ill with pneumonia and respiratory
problems in November 2003 and died four days after being
hospitalized. Since China was at that time still reeling from
severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the case was suspected of
being that, but lab tests were negative.
The ministry confirmed it was in fact a human case of bird flu
by parallel laboratory tests which were carried out in
collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
Before the case was revealed, China's first officially reported
human infection of bird flu on the mainland was on November 16,
2005. Nineteen human cases have been confirmed since then including
"Although this human infection confirmed on the mainland was two
years earlier than previous dates it gives no indication that China
had an outbreak of bird flu in 2003," said Mao Qun'an, spokesman
for the Ministry of Health.
"People need not panic," he told Xinhua News Agency in
an interview. "The surveillance capability of bird flu in the
country is significantly strengthened nowadays in comparison with
two years ago."
Mao said the ministry treated the case as a result of an
individual scientific research and had no plan to probe more cases
in that period.
Globally, 233 people had been confirmed to have contracted bird
flu and 135 of them had died by August 7, according to figures from
(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2006)