More testing is needed before China can confirm whether a soldier who died in Beijing in 2003 was an early case of bird flu, the Health Ministry said Monday. The case, first disclosed last month in a letter by Chinese researchers to a US medical journal.
The 24-year-old man who died in a military hospital on December 3, 2003, was first diagnosed with SARS. The Health Ministry said scientists in Beijing tested samples from the dead man in 2004 and last year and found “possible” infection with the H5N1 bird flu virus.
However, under World Health Organization and Chinese regulations, “confirmation still requires parallel testing” by another laboratory, the Health Ministry said. “Currently, work on a definite diagnosis on this case is under way.”
Confirmation of early human bird flu infections in China would firm up theories that the virus originated in southern China.