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Health authorities identify virus leading to Guangdong bird flu death

(Xinhua)

09:51, January 04, 2012

SHENZHEN, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Health authorities in south China's Guangdong province have identified the virus that led to the death of a local bus driver, although the source of the virus remains unclear, a local disease control center said Monday.

The highly pathogenic H5N1 virus is carried by poultry and birds, according to a statement released by the Shenzhen Disease Control Center.

Genetic analysis of the virus has indicated that it is similar to a virus found in dead migrant birds in a 2011 avian influenza outbreak in Hong Kong. However, it is not known if the case in Guangdong is related to migrant birds, the center said.

A 39-year-old man surnamed Chen from the Bao'an district of Shenzhen was hospitalized for a fever on Dec. 21 and tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus. Chen died of multiple organ failure Saturday afternoon.

Poultry and migrant birds are the only vectors for human H5N1 infection, according to He Jianfeng, director of the Epidemics Studies Institute of the Guangdong Disease Control Center.

However, He said that there is no clear evidence that Chen had close contact with poultry or migrant birds. Health authorities are still working to figure out where and when Chen acquired the virus.

Although it is highly pathogenic, the virus cannot be spread from person-to-person contact, the center said in a previous statement, adding that there is no need for people to panic.

The Guangdong Department of Agriculture also announced on Saturday that no epidemics of avian flu among poultry have been reported in the province.

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