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China Reports Bird Flu Infection in Military

China's Health Ministry Saturday confirmed a case of H5N1 infection known as bird flu in a 19-year-old soldier.

The ministry identified the man by his surname, Cheng, and said he was under treatment at a People's Liberation Army hospital.

But it did not specify his unit or say which region he came from, maintaining the government's customary secrecy for military affairs.

Cheng developed symptoms of fever, coughing and pneumonia on May 9 and was admitted to hospital on May 14, the ministry said.

Tests on May 18 suggested that he was infected with H5N1 bird flu, and national government and military health officials confirmed the results Wednesday.

The health ministry had reported the case to the World Health Organization and regional health authorities, it said.

The new case brings the total number of human infections with bird flu reported in China to 25 since 2003 of which 15 were fatal.

Experts have long warned that the virus might be more widespread in China, where dozens of outbreaks of H5N1 have been reported in poultry, the most recent one last weekend in the central province of Hunan.

H5N1 bird flu had infected 307 people, including 186 who died, in 12 mainly Asian and African nations by May 24, according to WHO statistics.


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