An Australian man was being tested for a possible bird flu infection Friday after he returned from China suffering shortness of breath, a health department spokesman said Friday.
Ambulance staff wearing protective clothing took the man to the Northern Hospital in the southern city of Melbourne after his doctor was unable to rule out the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu as the cause of his illness, Department of Health Services spokesman Bram Alexander said.
The man, who was not identified, was being held in isolation while lab tests were being analyzed by infectious disease officials in southern Victoria state. . Doctors had been notified earlier this year to be alert for signs of possible bird flu infections and to take precautionary measures where the disease could not be ruled out, he added.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu virus has killed at least 62 people in Asia since 2003. The virus is hard for humans to catch and most deaths have been linked to direct contact with poultry. Australia has had no confirmed bird flu outbreaks and no reported human cases of the virus, AP reports.