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Bird Flu Patient Still in Critical Condition
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A farmer who was confirmed on Tuesday to be infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is still in a critical condition in hospital.


The 44-year-old woman, surnamed Li, is receiving medical treatment in Jian'ou City Hospital, said Xu Longshan, chief of the Fujian Provincial Professional Panel for Prevention and Control of Human Infection of Bird Flu, on Friday.


According to Xu, the patient was found with inflammation on her left lung when she came to the hospital on Feb. 24, but her pneumonia symptoms developed quickly and she went into a coma the next day. A chest X-ray on Feb. 25 shows large shadows on her lungs.


As of Thursday evening, Li's body temperature and pulse had returned to normal, and her lungs and breathing appeared to be functioning better but she was still breathing with the help of a respirator, Xu said.


Doctors say Li is still in a critical condition and they are trying to boost her immunity to prevent further organic infection.


Over ten doctors and medical experts from local hospitals, and Beijing-based Chaoyang Hospital and Ditan Hospital are trying to work out a detailed treatment plan to save Li, said Xu Yongxi, head of the hospital.


Policemen and hospital staff have been seen guarding the ward where the patient is staying and doctors are wearing thick, disinfected suits.


Li is the country's first human case of bird flu in seven weeks since China reported on Jan. 10 that a 37-year-old farmer in east China's Anhui Province had contracted bird flu last December but had recovered.


Li is a native of Damiao Village, a marketplace in the mountainous township of Xiaosong. The farmer, who kept five chickens at her home, developed symptoms including fever on Feb. 18. She had visited village clinics and township hospitals before being hospitalized on Feb. 24 in Jian'ou City hospital.


She was confirmed to be infected with the virus by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Feb. 27.


Li is known to have eaten two chickens she had raised, but her husband and son, who also ate the chicken, have not developed bird flu.


Xu said Li had been sick with chronic tracheitis and had a poorly-functioning lung before being struck down with bird flu. "The onset of bird flu symptoms may have been related to her low immunity," Xu said.


All live poultry in Damiao Village and areas within a three-square-kilometer radius have been culled.


Yang Weizhong, Party secretary of the Xiaosong township, said they had set up watercourses in the village to store disinfectants and the village was immediately disinfected after Li was diagnosed with bird flu.


Local markets for live fowls and processed fowl products in Damiao and its adjacent regions have been closed until further notice.


Local health authorities said they were tightly monitoring 11 people, including Li's families and friends, who had had close contacts with her, as well as another 100, who had general contacts with the woman.


So far, they have shown no symptoms of the disease, authorities said.


The provincial health department has sent several medical workers to help local bird flu prevention work, and it has ordered prompt reporting of fever patients in Jian'ou city.


Local health authorities have examined 87 patients with fever but have found no bird flu symptoms among the people.


New information from the Ministry of Agriculture has found no bird flu virus in the avian samples collected from Damiao Village and the adjacent areas so far.


The specialists concluded that there was a slight possibility of infection being spread by wild fowls.


All of the samples have been sent to the China National Bird Flu Reference Lab, based in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, for further tests.


Specialists and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture are taking a slate of measures to curb infection in the area including expanding disinfecting and monitoring areas.


The virus has killed 14 people in China since 2003.


(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2007)


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