China reports avian flu case near Hong Kong

Jun 14, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – A 31-year-old Chinese man from Guangdong province near Hong Kong has tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza, according to a Xinhua news report today.

The man, a truck driver, had a fever, back pain, and coughing that started Jun 3, and he was hospitalized in the city of Shenzhen Jun 9, according to a story from Agence France-Presse (AFP) today. He has been transferred to Donghu Hospital in Shenzhen and is listed in critical condition, Xinhua reported.

The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control said the man tested positive for H5N1, and samples had been sent to China's Ministry of Health for verification.

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) global count of human H5N1 cases currently stands at 225 cases worldwide, including 128 deaths, since the current outbreak began in 2003. China has reported 18 avian flu cases and 12 deaths, all in 2005 and 2006, according to the WHO.

The infected man might have contracted H5N1 after his wife bought a chicken from a live-bird market 2 weeks earlier and served it to him and four other family members, AFP reported, citing Xinhua. The other relatives have not had symptoms, the story said. In contrast, a Bloomberg report today said the man himself may have visited a local wet market.

Shenzhen is about 40 minutes by rail from Hong Kong, the Bloomberg report said, and thousands commute between the cities each day or visit Shenzhen to shop. Hong Kong officials are screening travelers arriving by land for fever and have stepped up inspections of poultry from mainland China, according to Bloomberg.

News of this human case comes after China's Ministry of Agriculture issued an emergency order for local governments to tighten controls over poultry stocks to prevent migratory birds from infecting them, AFP reported Jun 12. The order focuses on areas in the flight paths of migratory birds. China has reported 35 outbreaks of avian flu among poultry since October 2005, according to AFP.

In addition, the WHO announced it will open a center in China to help fight avian flu and other infectious diseases, according to a Jun 12 Bloomberg story. The WHO Collaborating Centre for Surveillance, Research and Training on Emerging Infectious Diseases will be located in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.

"The WHO collaborating center in Guangdong is a milestone in China's contribution to global public health," said Huang Jiefu, China's vice-minister for health, in a statement quoted by Bloomberg. "It reflects our country's commitment to playing a prominent role in this regard, at an especially critical moment in public health history."

Elsewhere, Indonesia has asked the WHO and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to hold a technical review and consultation meeting next week in Jakarta, a separate Bloomberg story reported. Indonesia's national committee for avian flu and pandemic flu preparedness invited Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of the WHO's global influenza program, and other avian flu experts to participate in the meeting.

The 3-day meeting begins Jun 21 and will assess the avian flu situation in Indonesia's human and animal populations, according to Bloomberg. Its aim is to provide guidance to Indonesia's government and improve the country's strategies for rapid response and containment of outbreaks.

And in northeastern Ukraine, the village of Pisky near the Russian border was quarantined to control an outbreak of avian flu in domestic poultry, a third Bloomberg article reported yesterday. A team of 70 soldiers was culling about 7,200 chickens to control the outbreak, the story said, only a month after government officials declared Ukraine free of the H5N1 virus.

"I don't know how long we will quarantine the village," Ihor Krol, spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Emergency Situations, told Bloomberg.

The country has culled more than 175,000 poultry in its southern regions this year to contain avian flu, Bloomberg reported. Ukraine also quarantined 10 villages in the Crimea, on the Black Sea, in December after the virus killed 2,500 poultry in the first of the country's 22 H5N1 outbreaks, the story said. That quarantine was lifted in March.

The current outbreak is the first in northern Ukraine, according to a Jun 12 Reuters article.

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