The Health Ministry announced that a 19-year-old soldier hospitalized on May 14 in the southern province of Fujian has contracted the H5N1 bird flu, raising concerns that the disease is still a health threat to the country, the South China Morning Post reported. ''One individual H5N1 case is not in itself cause for alarm, but its occurrence shows that the virus is still circulating and a continuing public health threat,'' said Joanna Brent, WHO spokesperson at Beijing. Bird flu has killed at least 186 people worldwide since the virus began spreading in poultry flocks in late 2003. Experts have warned that if outbreaks in birds are not controlled, the virus may mutate into a form more easily passed between people, potentially resulting in millions of deaths worldwide.
For more on the H5N1 virus, see the China Economic Review's special report in the March 2007 issue here.