Chinese woman dies from bird flu

A Chinese woman has died from bird flu in a Beijing hospital after contracting the disease last month, the government said Tuesday.

A Chinese woman has died from bird flu in a Beijing hospital after contracting the disease last month, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Health said Huang Yanqing, 19, died Monday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Huang became ill after buying and cleaning nine ducks in December at a market in Hebei province, which borders Beijing. She also gave three ducks to her father, uncle and a friend, according to the agency.

Her father, Huang Jinxian, told reporters that the family tried to treat Yanqing at home first with store bought medicine. "It was useless, so we sent her to Guanzhuang hospital" in the eastern suburbs of Beijing, he said.

The ministry said tests showed Huang had the H5N1 bird flu virus.

Xinhua quoted the Beijing Health Bureau as saying 116 people had been in close contact with Huang, including the patient's 14 family members, neighbour and 102 medical workers. One nurse fell ill with a fever but has since recovered, the report said.

The ministry said it reported the case to the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization said the case did not appear to involve human-to-human transmission and doesn't signal a new public health threat.

"This single case, which appears to have occurred during the slaughtering and preparation of poultry, does not change our risk assessment," the organization's Beijing office said in a statement.

In northern Vietnam, meanwhile, an eight-year-old girl has tested positive for the disease — the first human case reported in the country in nearly a year, health officials said Tuesday.

247 deaths since 2003

The girl from Thanh Hoa province was admitted to a hospital on Dec. 27 with a high fever and other symptoms after eating a sick goose raised by the family, said Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, acting director of the provincial health department.

The girl is recovering, officials said.

Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Preventive Medicine Department at the Ministry of Health, said the girl tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Bird flu has killed 247 people since 2003, according to WHO, including 20 in China and 52 in Vietnam.

The H5N1 bird flu virus continues to devastate poultry stocks around the world, and officials worry the virus could mutate into a much-feared form that could spread easily among people. It remains hard for people to catch, with most human cases linked to contact with infected birds.

China, which raises more poultry than any other country, has vowed to aggressively fight the virus.