January 2, 2012
Park Possible Source Of Fatal Chinese Bird Flu Infection
A Chinese man who died from bird flu over the weekend may have contracted the disease by running through a wetland park that had been filled with migratory birds, that nation's medical officials told reporters on Sunday.
The victim, a 39-year-old bus driver identified only by his family name, Chen, died on Saturday -- one week after he was admitted to a hospital in the city of Shenzhen with pneumonia, Peter Simpson of the Telegraph reported on Sunday. The cause of death was listed as multiple organ failure.
"We discovered he had taken five days' leave before he fell sick. He went jogging every morning in an area where there are many migratory birds," He Jianfeng of the Chinese Health Ministry told Simpson, referring to the Waterlands Resort wetland park.
The Telegraph reporter added that medical officials are now attempting to determine whether or not he caught the H5N1 avian flu virus from the birds themselves or though their droppings during his morning jogs through the resort. They have already confirmed that he did not have any direct contract with poultry and had not left the city in the month leading up to his death.
Ben Blanchard of Reuters, citing the Xinhua news agency, reported on Saturday that the man first developed symptoms on December 21 and was admitted to the hospital on Christmas. No signs of illness were discovered in the more than 100 people who reportedly had contact with the bus driver.
"The current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, kills most species of birds and up to 60 percent of the people it infects. Since 2003, it has infected 573 people around the world, killing 336," Blanchard said.
"The virus is normally found in birds but can jump to people who do not have immunity to it. Researchers worry it could mutate into a form that would spread around the world and kill millions," he added. "In recent years, the virus has become active in various parts of the world, mainly in east Asia, during the cooler months."
Chen's death is the H5N1-related fatality in China in 18 months, Simpson said.
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