Chinese woman tests positive for bird flu

A 29-year-old woman in southwestern China has tested positive for bird flu and been hospitalized in a critical condition, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday. The woman, identified only by the surname Cao, was the 10th human case of bird flu in China. There have been six human fatalities in mainland China.

The woman showed symptoms for a fever and pneumonia on Jan. 12 and has been hospitalized in a critical condition in Chengdu in Sichuan province, Xinhua said, citing a report released by the health ministry. It said she tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu on Jan. 17.

The ministry did not say whether there was an outbreak of bird flu among poultry in the area where Cao lives, Xinhua said.

The report said that people who have had close contact with Cao have been put under medical observation by local health authorities, but have not shown any abnormal symptoms.

Bird flu has killed at least 79 people in Asia and Turkey since 2003.

Most human infections have been traced to contact with sick birds and Chinese health officials say more are inevitable if the country does not curb outbreaks in poultry.

Experts worry that the virus could mutate into a form that would be easily transmitted between people, sparking a global flu pandemic that could kill millions, reports the AP.

D.M.