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H5N1 virus claims first casualty in China

H5N1 virus claims first casualty in ChinaChinese health department officials have confirmed that the death of a 39-year-old man in Guangdong Province was due to bird flu.

The latest victim of the bird flue in China died of multiple organ failure at a hospital in Guangdong Province’s Shenzhen city. The man had begun developing symptoms on December 21 and had been suffering from pneumonia when he was hospitalized last Sunday. Subsequently, he was tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

It was the first reported human death due to bird flu in the last 18 months. The death came just around a week after Hong Kong health officials found two dead birds positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

But, the man reportedly had no direct contact with poultry birds and had not moved outside the city of Shenzhen, which is just north of Hong Kong, where thousands of birds were culled after two birds were tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

The H5N1 virus spreads easily among poultry birds, but rarely infects humans. However, when the virus somehow passes to humans, it has a 60 per cent mortality rate.

Since 2003, around six hundred people have been infected globally with H5N1 virus, and 336 of them have died.