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China Confirms First Bird Flu Death
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Chinese Ministry of Health on Tuesday confirmed the country's first human case of H5N1 bird flu occurred in November 2003.

A letter published by eight Chinese scientists on June 22 in the New England Journal of Medicine said that 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 disease on November 2003 and died four days after being hospitalized. Since China was then in the aftershock of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the case was suspected of a SARS case, but lab tests were negative for SARS.

The ministry confirmed the case by parallel laboratory tests, which were carried out in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Before this case was revealed, China's first officially reported human infection of bird flu in the mainland was on November 16, 2005. Nineteen human cases have been confirmed since then, including 12 deaths.

Globally, 233 people have been confirmed to have contracted bird flu and 135 of them have died, according to figures from the WHO.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2006)

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