Page last updated at 05:32 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

China treats toddler for bird flu

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A girl aged two is critically ill with the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Shanxi, northern China, in the second case reported by China in as many weeks.

The girl was discovered ill on 7 January in the central province of Hunan and taken to a hospital in her home province, Chinese state media say.

Health officials did not say how the child had become infected.

A woman infected with bird flu died in Beijing earlier after buying ducks at a market in Hebei province.

China's health ministry said that the girl had been transferred to another hospital after her symptoms grew worse.

All people who have had close contact with her are under "strict medical observation", it said, adding that no abnormal symptoms had yet been found.

China has the world's biggest poultry population and is seen as critical in the fight to contain H5N1, which resurfaced in Asia in 2003, killing at least 247 people.

Of the deaths, 21 occurred in China.

H5N1 does not transmit easily to humans but experts fear it could mutate and cause a worldwide pandemic.

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