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China confirms 2nd human bird flu fatality in February
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H5N1 bird flu claimed it second human fatality in China this year as the Ministry of Health confirmed the death of a Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region man on Thursday.

The 41-year-old surnamed Liang in Nanning City developed fever and headache symptoms on Feb. 12 and was hospitalized on Feb. 14. His symptoms worsened despite treatment.

He died at 5 p.m. on Feb. 20 after all rescue measures proved ineffectual.

His specimens tested positive for the bird flu virus strain H5N1, the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention said. It added Liang had been in contact with sick poultry before he contracted the disease.

The virus is most commonly passed from sick poultry to humans who have close contact with infected birds.

The local government undertook prevention and control measures once the case was reported. Those who had close contact with Liang were put under strict medical observation. So far, none have shown signs of the disease, the ministry said.

The case has been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), authorities in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and some foreign governments.

It was the second confirmed human bird flu case in China this year.

On Feb. 18, the health ministry confirmed a 22-year-old man surnamed Li in the central Hunan Province tested positive for H5N1. He died on Jan. 16 at 5 p.m..

The two deaths brought the number of confirmed human bird flu cases in China to 29 since 2003. Nineteen have been fatal.

WHO statistics show by Feb. 1 human bird flu infections had claimed 225 lives worldwide.

The latest two China cases both took place in the worst snow-stricken areas in the country, where prolonged low temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow have caused blackouts and traffic chaos.

On Feb. 15, the Ministry of Health said no cases of infectious epidemic or mass food poisoning were reported in China's snow-stricken areas by Feb. 14. The death toll caused by infectious disease in the snow-stricken areas showed no year-on-year increase in the past month.

(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2008)

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