Hong Kong confirms second bird flu death in a fortnight

Authorities say it was not immediately clear how or from where the patient contracted the H7N9 virus.

Delhi on high alert as bird flu spreads thick and fast
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Hong Kong has confirmed the second bird flu death in two weeks as a 62-year-old man, who had travelled to mainland China, died on Friday. In mid-December, the man visited the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and was hospitalized in the neighbouring city of Dongguan earlier this week.

The hospital authorities said the patient was admitted in Hong Kong on Wednesday. However, it was not immediately clear how or from where he contracted the H7N9 virus. According to the Centre for Health Protection, the man did not have any recent exposure to poultry or wet markets.

The virus was first reported in humans in Hong Kong in 1997. Reports say six people had died and subsequent outbreaks have killed hundreds more worldwide. Hong Kong confirmed three human cases of H7N9 in the last three weeks and authorities expressed their fear amid the spread of the disease in South Korea, Japan and China.

Reports said all the three patients in Hong Kong had visited southern China. The first patient died on Christmas Day, while the second bird flu case of patient suffering from H7N9 was confirmed on last Friday.

At least four people have died due to H7N7 in China this season. The latest death was reported on Thursday in the eastern province of Shandong and till now 19 infections have been confirmed.

The last time when China faced a severe outbreak of bird flu was in 2013-2014. At least 36 people were killed and the agricultural sector was hit by a loss of more than US$6 billion.

As a precautionary step, China has already culled more than 170,000 birds in four provinces and has closed some live poultry markets since October 2016. Anhui province, especially, has internalised several preventive measures like thorough cleaning, animal detention techniques and adequate culling after it saw two deaths from the highly contagious virus.

Bird flu has also spread in other Asian countries like Korea and Japan. While Japan began slaughtering around 210,000 farm birds in northern Hokkaido from 18 December, South Korea issued a nationwide alert to make citizen aware of the disease.