________________________________________________________________________ Mystery flu may be spreading in Hong Kong ____________________________________________________________________________ Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press HONG KONG (December 9, 1997 06:47 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- Nine hospital staff members who had "substantive" contact with two patients infected by a rare virus have developed flu-like symptoms, Hong Kong health authorities said Tuesday. One of the infected patients, a 54-year-old man, died last week of complications arising from pneumonia. The other, a 13-year-old girl, was listed in critical and stable condition with the rare H5N1 influenza A virus, the Hospital Authority said. In May, a 3-year-old boy became the first casualty of the virus, which previously had been found only in birds and poultry, government health spokesman John Tam said. A 2-year-old boy also was hospitalized with the virus last month but recovered. The nine hospital staff members have been tested for H5N1 infection, and results are expected in a few days, said Raymond Lo, an authority spokesman. Eight of the staff worked at the Prince of Wales Hospital, where the 13-year-old victim is being treated. The ninth worked at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where the 54-year-old man died. The Hong Kong government says there is so far no evidence of human-to-human transmission. About 4,500 chickens on three poultry farms died of the virus in April, the government said. But no direct connection has been established between the farm outbreak and the human cases, it said. April's farm outbreak was the first time the H5N1 virus had been discovered in poultry, Agriculture and Fisheries spokesman Peter Hung said. South China is the point of origin of many of the world's flus, and since the first case was diagnosed, the government has been working with local experts, the World Health Organization and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Dr. Paul Saw, deputy director of the Department of Health, said the WHO had been asked to alert vaccine production centers worldwide to monitor developments with a view toward preparing the necessary vaccine.
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