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BEIJING, Feb 21 (Reuters) - A man from China’s southern Guangxi autonomous region has died of the H5N1 bird flu virus, the third death from the disease since late last year, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
The man fell ill on February 12, was admitted to hospital two days later and died on February 20, the ministry said on its Web site (www.moh.gov.cn).
He had been in contact with sick domestic poultry, and a specimen sent to a central government laboratory confirmed he was infected with the H5N1 virus.
Checks have been carried out on everyone who had been in contact with the victim, and so far no abnormalities had been detected, the statement added.
The ministry has informed the World Health Organisation, authorities in Hong Kong and some other national governments of the case.
A 22-year-old man from the central Chinese province of Hunan died in late January of the H5N1 strain. Between Jan 18 and Feb 14 it also killed three men in north Vietnam, which borders Guangxi.
With the world’s biggest poultry population and millions of backyard birds roaming free, China is at the centre of the fight against bird flu. Since late 2003, the country has had 29 human cases, including 19 deaths.
Scientists fear the bird flu virus could mutate into a form that could pass easily from person to person, sparking a global pandemic.
Not including the latest death, the virus is known to have killed 230 people globally since late 2003, according to the World Health Organisation. (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by David Fogarty)