A man died in southern China two days ago from the H5N1 bird flu virus – the second such death in less than a month. The latest victim, an unidentified 39-year-old, fell ill on Jan. 6 and was admitted to a hospital in Guizhou Province the same day.
In the latest case, the victim “did not report obvious exposure history to poultry before the onset of symptoms.” One bit of good news is that the Chinese authorities, who are monitoring 71 people known to have been in contact with the victim, have found no other evidence of flu.
People who were in contact with the Shenzhen victim also have remained symptom-free, leading some experts to conclude that neither case involved transmission among humans.
Worldwide, bird flu has killed 343 of the 582 people who are known to have been infected, according to the WHO, including 28 of the 42 infected Chinese victims. With the world’s largest poultry population, and close contact between birds and people in rural areas, China is regarded as a major breeding ground for the disease.
Vietnam has reported 60 deaths, including that of an 18-year-old duck farmer last week. A victim in Indonesia also recently died.