Bird Flu Hits Southwest China, Two in Critical Condition with H5N1 Virus

First Posted: Feb 11, 2013 09:51 AM EST

Two human cases of bird flu have been reported this Sunday in the southwestern city of Guiyang, China. Both patients are in critical condition, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A 21-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus on Sunday after developing symptoms as early as February 2 and 3, according to Xinhua.

 "They are in a critical condition and medical workers are carrying out emergency treatment," the Ministry of Health said in a statement, cited by Xinhua.

China is not unfamiliar with the virus. It is the second city to be struck after the after 19-year-old Beijing-based migrant worker Huang Yanqing died in January of the disease.

People who had close contact with two of the patients are currently under medical observation but have not been found ill so far, the agency said according to the South China Morning Post.

However, it reported that the two did not have contact with birds before they developed any symptoms.

The bird flu virus has killed approximately 365 people worldwide since its major outbreak in 2003, according to the World Health Organization.

It typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact. However, experts fear that it could mutate into a form transmissible between humans, according to reports.

To make matters worse, China is considered to be one of the nations most at risk for the bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans according to the Research Center for Rural Economy.

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