Bird Flu Alarm

2006-01-25-Woman dies of bird flu in China

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-01-25-Woman dies of bird flu in China

A woman in China has become the seventh person in the country to die from the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.

The 29-year-old woman, surnamed Cao, had been in a critical condition in hospital in Chengdu, south-west China.

The World Health Organization said the woman, who tested positive for the H5N1 virus on 17 January, ran a shop in a farm goods market.

China is seen as a potential flashpoint for a human pandemic, because it has the world's largest poultry population.

The latest victim worked in Jinhua town, Sichuan province - an area which had previously suffered no known outbreaks of the disease.

She worked in a dry goods shop which typically sells foods like nuts and seeds, but not poultry.

Holiday risk

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu warned that officials must be on alert for bird flu over the lunar New Year period, when large amounts of chicken are set to be slaughtered.

The disease cannot be contracted by eating cooked poultry, but those in close contact with sick birds are at risk.

Thousands of poultry will be transported across China for the holiday, increasing the chance that outbreaks will be spread.

More than 70 people in South East Asia are known to have died of bird flu since late 2003.

Scientists fear the H5N1 bird flu virus could mutate from a disease that largely affects birds to one that can pass easily between people, leading to a human pandemic.

Understanding Avian Influenza