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  Bird flu kills woman in Shandong  



JINAN: Bird flu claimed its second victim this year when a woman infected by the virus died in Shandong province around 6:40 pm on Saturday.

In Shanxi province, a 2-year-old girl lay in serious condition in a hospital.

The 27-year-old woman surnamed Zhang, who lived in Jinan, Shandong's provincial capital, fell ill on Jan 5 and was admitted to hospital later when her condition deteriorated.

The national Center for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday confirmed that Zhang had contracted the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

People who had come into close contact with the victim have undergone medical tests, the Shandong provincial government said. But they have showed no symptoms of bird flu.

The 2-year-old girl, surnamed Peng, fell ill on Jan 7 while she was in Hunan province. She was taken to her home province of Shanxi on Jan 11, Xinhua said, citing a provincial health department official, who did not want to be named.

The Health Ministry did not say how the girl had contracted the deadly virus.

The Agriculture Ministry has sent officials to Hunan and Shanxi to check the situations there. It, however, said no reports of a bird flu outbreak had been received from either of the provinces.

The Health Ministry said on its website that Peng was transferred to another hospital after her condition deteriorated, and officials on Saturday confirmed that she had been infected with the virus.

"All people who came in close contact with her are under strict medical observation ... Up to now, none of them, however, has showed any abnormal symptoms," it said.

Earlier this month, health authorities said a 19-year-old woman infected with bird flu died in Beijing, prompting officials to order emergency checks of local poultry markets.

Though the H5N1 virus has remained largely confined to birds, experts fear it could mutate and be transmitted from person to person, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions of people across the world.





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