China's Ministry of Health Sunday gave a briefing on three pneumonia cases of unknown causes in Xiangtan County, central China's Hunan Province, where an H5N1 bird flu epidemic broke out recently.
"After conducting comprehensive analysis, experts said although the three cases are diagnosed as pneumonia of unknown causes at present, the possibility of human infection of the highly deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu can not be ruled out," a spokesman for the ministry said.
"We still need further test in the laboratory to find the exact causes," he said, adding a lab under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention is carrying out the test.
He said the ministry has reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) about the three cases and prevention and control measures.
The ministry has also invited experts with the WHO to help ascertain the causes, he said.
According to the spokesman, a 12-year-old schoolgirl surnamed He in Shebu township was hospitalized on the morning of Oct. 16 for "serious pneumonia"at the Xiangtan Maternal and Childcare Hospital and transferred to Hunan Childrens' Hospital at noontime. She died on the morning of the following day. She tested negative both to the H5N1 bird flu and SARS.
The nine-year-old brother of the schoolgirl was hospitalized on Oct. 17 at the Xiangtan Maternal and Childcare Hospital and on the evening of the following day, transferred to Hunan Childrens' Hospital to receive treatment in isolation.
From Oct. 22, his body temperature returned to normal. So did clinical indicators and indicators of various examinations.
He was suspected of positive to H5 virus in one of the tests. But he tested negative in all other related tests to the H5N1 bird flu. He also tested negative to SARS.
Wantang village of Shebu township experienced an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu epidemic recently.
In the third case, a 36-year-old male teacher surnamed Song was hospitalized in the Xiangtan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital after a medical examination showed he was ill of pneumonia on Oct. 24. After receiving treatment with antibiotics, his body temperature returned to normal and conditions of his disease stabilized and turned for the better. He tested negative both to the H5N1 virus and SARS.
According to the spokesman, the ministry reported the cases of the two, sister and brother, to the WHO on Oct. 28. It reported in detail about the three cases and prevention and control measures to the WHO on Nov. 3.