on alert as killer bird flu returns"
Feb. 20, 2003
The Associated Press & Reuters
HONG KONG, China -- Hong Kong is on alert after a second case of the
potentially deadly bird flu virus was confirmed.
Hong Kong residents became nervous after a nine-year-old boy caught
the virus after a visit to southeastern China.
Reports also surfaced that the boy's father and sister had recently
died from pneumonia.
The Hong Kong government released a statement Thu rsday evening confirming
the boy's father had died from the bird virus.
This is the second time the disease has jumped from birds to humans
since six people died in the territory in 1997.
"Obviously, we are very concerned about the situation," the Secretary
for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, said in a statement earlier
"We know that avian flu is endemic in this part of the world and we
have been looking at how we should be able to control it."
Health officials say the bird flu strain infecting the boy is not the
same as the one that killed six people in 1997.
And they also say there's no evidence so far that this latest strain
can be contracted through humans.
The boy's eight-year-old sister fell ill in China and died in a hospital
there on February 4. His father, 33, fell ill in China on February 7 and
died 10 days later in a Hong Kong hospital.
The family had just returned from a visit to Fujian in southeastern
China, where five people died and hundreds fell ill from a rare form of
The boy developed fever, cough and runny nose on February 7 and returned
to Hong Kong, where he was admitted to a local hospital and is in a stable
Hong Kong authorities say they are working with mainland officials to
monitor the situation.
They have advised people living in the city to avoid direct contact
with poultry and birds.
While experts did not determine how the 1997 strain jumped from birds
to humans, they ruled out the possibility the virus could be contracted
by eating infected birds.
Hong Kong health officials said they were testing everyone with severe
pneumonia for the virus but had found no other positive results.
The World Health Organization said it had alerted its global influenza
The congested territory of 6.8 million people has been hit by three
major bird flu outbreaks in the last five years, each time leading to massive