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January 5, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Shanghai remains free of bird flu virus

SHANGHAI remains free of bird flu, the city's health bureau said yesterday following the discovery of another two dead birds with the virus in Hong Kong.

Bureau official Song Guofan said: "The health authorities always stay a high alert on H5N1 virus. Monitoring and supervision for infectious diseases of respiratory system including bird flu have been tightened in the peak season of winter and spring."

Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the black-headed gulls found in the southern city had tested positive for the virus.

The gulls, a migratory bird commonly seen in Hong Kong were discovered in Tuen Mun and Lantau Island last Friday and on Monday.

The department has alerted chicken farmers to take precautions against the virus.

Alert level raised

There is no poultry farm within 3 kilometers of where the birds were found, the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po newspaper reported yesterday.

Hong Kong raised its bird flu alert level to "serious" on December 21 after the virus was found in a dead chicken in a poultry market there. Nearly 20,000 chickens in the market were destroyed and local farms were banned from sending chickens to the market for 21 days.

Last Saturday, a man died in hospital after being infected with the virus in Shenzhen, a city bordering Hong Kong.

The man, surnamed Chen, was admitted to hospital with a fever on December 21 and tested positive for the H5N1 virus, local health authorities said. He died from multiple organ failure.

A health official said there was no clear evidence Chen had been in contact with poultry or migratory birds. Health authorities are still trying to discover where and when he acquired the virus.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, is a contagious disease of animal origin caused by viruses that normally infect birds and, less commonly, pigs. The virus cannot be spread person-to-person.

Concerning recent reports on tamiflu, an antiviral drug recommended for bird flu, officials from the Shanghai Clinical Center for Drug Adverse Reaction Monitoring said there had been no reports of adverse reactions in the city.

A Japanese institute recently warned that tamiflu could cause sudden breathing difficulties or even be fatal after studying data from Japan's health ministry. Thirty-eight people suffered critical conditions or died within 12 hours after taking the drug, the official data showed.


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