China reports suspected bird flu death - 24 March, 2006 - News

A 29-year-old woman died of suspected bird flu in Shanghai, officials and state media said Friday, as seven ailing people in Cambodia were being checked for the virulent H5N1 virus strain after the death of a 3-year-old girl.

In Malaysia, authorities were trapping migratory birds to test them for the virus after it was detected in chickens.

Tests on the woman who died in Shanghai, a migrant worker, indicated she probably succumbed to pneumonia caused by bird flu, newspapers and the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

They said the Health Ministry was investigating further to confirm the diagnosis.

Spokesman for Shanghai government agencies refused to give other details or the woman's name.

She was admitted to the No. 9 People's Hospital on March 15 with a fever and cough, said a woman who answered the phone at its administrative office. She said the woman died Tuesday.

"Experts are here to check it out," said the woman, who refused to give her name to reporters, saying it was against policy. "At this moment, there's no final result as to whether this was caused by bird flu or not, so it's not convenient for us to say anything at the moment."

If confirmed, the woman's death would be the first bird flu case among humans in Shanghai, China's biggest city, with a population of 20 million people including about 3 million migrant workers.

China has reported 15 confirmed bird flu cases and 10 deaths on its mainland.

Worldwide, the virus has killed 103 people in eight countries, mostly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization.

Most human infections have been linked to direct contact with infected birds, though medical experts fear the virus may mutate into a form that could be passed between people.

In Cambodia, three children and four adults from the southern village of Tuol Prik were being tested after falling ill with fevers and cold symptoms after having contact with sick fowl or a 3-year-old girl who died this week, said Megge Miller, a WHO epidemiologist in Cambodia.

Results of tests on samples from the girl are expected next week, Miller said.

"We're being just very cautious. We're treating it very seriously," she said.

If confirmed, the girl would be Cambodia's fifth bird flu fatality since 2003 and the first this year, reports the AP.

I.L.