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Boy's case isolated, bird flu outbreak unlikely

By By Kahon Chan and Li Wenfang (China Daily)

08:23, June 05, 2012

All of the contacts of a 2-year-old boy who tested positive for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland were either asymptomatic or tested negative for bird flu, authorities of the special administrative region and Guangdong province said, suggesting that the chance of an outbreak was slim.

The boy was still in serious condition after a week of treatment in Hong Kong.

He is being kept isolated in the pediatric intensive care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital.

It was the city's first human case of bird flu in 18 months. The boy is thought to have been infected with the deadly virus during his visit to a wet market in Guangzhou last month.

Hong Kong kept the bird flu alert level at "serious" after raising it on Friday, and stricter visiting restrictions were imposed in the city's public hospitals.

Imports and sales of poultry have continued as usual - unlike in December, when an infected live chicken was found. Samples collected from 30 local chicken farms on Sunday all tested negative for bird flu, a spokesperson from the city's agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said.

York Chow Yat-ngok, secretary for food and health, assured the public that it was an "isolated" case and the city is well guarded against all types of infectious diseases.

"We feel that there is no need for panic among Hong Kong residents," he said. "All in all, I would only advise the public to maintain a good level of personal and environmental hygiene."

Though summer is not considered a peak season for flu, Chow said human flu cases are not seasonal in nature, as observed in tropical countries, like Vietnam and Indonesia.

The boy's illness was first reported before midnight on Friday. His condition was said to be stable, but it worsened to serious on Saturday.

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