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Hong Kong bird flu case appears isolated

Hong Kong officials said on Monday tests indicated no city-wide outbreak of bird flu as the first patient infected with the virus in seven years was out of danger.

Health Secretary York Chow said the 59-year-old woman, diagnosed with the H5N1 virus on November 1 after returning from a holiday in China, was now in a stable condition.

While she remained in intensive care, tests showed she did not have a new strain of the virus and could be treated with Tamiflu and Relenza, Chow said.

City-wide tests on farms and wholesale markets conducted since the woman’s diagnosis was confirmed last week had found no trace of the H5N1 virus elsewhere, he added.

Hong Kong went on a high alert after the woman, who had visited Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou in China, was confirmed as the city’s first human case of bird flu since 2003.

It is not yet known whether the woman contracted the virus in Hong Kong or in mainland China, health officials said.

Six people died and 12 others were infected in Hong Kong in the first modern case of bird flu to jump the species barrier in 1997, leading to a cull of millions of chickens and ducks.

Hong Kong has since prevented any further significant local outbreaks. The last case in the city involved a father who died and whose son fell ill after a visit to China in 2003. — Sapa-dpa

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