Bird Flu: Death Toll In China Reaches 27

Bird Flu: Death Toll In China Reaches 27

The death toll from a new strain of the bird flu virus has risen to 27 after a man died in central China's Hunan Province.

The 55-year-old, whose surname was given as Jiao, died after receiving medical treatment, according to state news agency Xinhua.

At least 126 people have been diagnosed with the H7N9 virus since it was first reported in late March, with most cases so far confined to eastern China. One case has been reported in Taiwan.

China confirmed 19 new cases of the virus in the week leading up to May 1, Xinhua said.

The World Health Organisation has called the outbreak "one of the most lethal" flu viruses ever seen, but there is no evidence yet of human-to-human transmission.

The virus is contracted after contact with poultry, but experts believe it is possible it could mutate, triggering a pandemic.

Public Health England (PHE) has taken the precaution of writing to GPs, warning them to be alert for symptoms in travellers returning from the Far East.

Most of the bird flu cases have not yet resulted in death, with some patients suffering lung problems but later being discharged from hospital after apparently recovering.

Meanwhile, a new Sars-like virus has sparked a health alert in Saudi Arabia after five deaths in the past few days.

The Saudi health ministry said all those cases were in the Ahsaa province, in the oil-rich eastern region of the kingdom.

Known as novel coronavirus or hCoV-EMC, the virus was first detected in mid-2012 and is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars), which triggered a scare 10 years ago when it erupted in east Asia.

The new strain is different in that it can cause rapid kidney failure.

Sixteen people have now died from 23 reported cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany and Britain.

However, the World Health Organisation does not yet know how it is transmitted or how widespread it is.

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