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Bird Flu Patient Remains Critical As WHO Officials Visit Village
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The farmer from Jian'ou of southeast China's Fujian Province who contracted the bird flu late last month remains in critical condition but is not worsening, according to local sources.

The 44-year-old woman, surnamed Li, is being treated at the Jian'ou City Hospital. A team of medical specialist have been going all out to save her life, said Yu Jian, mayor of Jian'ou, a county-level city in northeastern Fujian.

He was speaking to a panel of experts from international organizations attending a forum held here on Monday.

Panel members include Dr. Chin-Kei Lee, the representative of World Health Organization (WHO) to China, Xu Zhen, the coordinator to WHO's representative to China, and Guo Fusheng, the representative of Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to China.

The specialists visited Li's home, inspected the poultry shed where she raised the chickens and interviewed villagers.

"Li ate the infected chickens, but I think the infection was likely contracted during the slaughter and handling of the dead chickens, not by consumption," said Dr. Chin-Kei Lee.

Li had eaten two chickens she had raised, but her husband and son, who also ate the chicken, have not fallen ill.

There have been no reports of a large number of dead birds in the village. "There is no need to panic," said Lee, who also urged more to be done to raise public awareness of the causes of bird flu.

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

Li is a native of Damiao Village, a marketplace in the mountainous Town of Xiaosong. The woman farmer, who kept only five chickens at her home, developed symptoms of fever on Feb. 18. She visited village clinics and town hospitals before being hospitalized on Feb. 24 in the Jian'ou City Hospital. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the case on Feb. 27.

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

The bird flu virus has killed 14 people in China since 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2007)

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