01/20/2009, 00.00
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The threat of Bird Flu returns to haunt China: third victim of 2009

It is a 16 year old student from the province of Guizhou. He contracted the illness from infected fowl. Chinese health authorities have set out “severe sanctions” against the illegal selling of poultry and vaccines to fight bird flu.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The third bird flu victim for China in 2009.  State news agency Xinhua, reported the death today citing government sources.  The victim, a 16 year student, died this morning in Huaihua hospital in the province of Hunan.

According to a statement issued by the Chinese Health Minister, Wu originally from the province of Guizhou, was hospitalised on January 8th with high fever and in critical conditions.  On January 16th he was transferred to the hospital in Huaihua city; clinical exams certified that he had contracted bird flu.

“Clinical tests revealed that the patient came into contact with fowl carrying the H5N1 virus. He later developed the disease”, referred Xinhua. There have been no registered cases of bird flu in China for over a year; now less than two weeks apart and closet o the Chinese New Year four cases of the illness have been certified.  Three people have already died from the disease, while the fourth is being treated.  The first victim of 2009 was registered January 5th in Beijing, followed by a 27th year old woman who died January 17th in Shandong, the capital of Jinan. From 2003 to today there have been a total of 23 bird flu victims in China.  Bird flu outbreaks tend to happen in winter, when low temperatures create more favourable conditions for the virus to spread.

The Ministry for agriculture has issued norms ahead of next week's Lunar New Year festivities, when many people gather for family reunions and eat poultry.  They include the “consumption of only well cooked meats” and the warning to “thoroughly wash ones hands after handling of raw meat”.  China's State Administration of Industry and Commerce instructed officials to "severely punish" illegal sellers of live poultry and bird flu vaccines.


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