, , ,

Jan 27, 2009, 2:04 GMT

Hong Kong – Hong Kong issued a city-wide health alert Tuesday after China reported its fifth human death from the H5N1 bird flu virus so far this year.

  The latest victim was an 18-year-old man from the Guangxi region who developed symptoms on January 19 and died on Monday, according to officials in China.

  His death came one day after a 29-year-old man in China’s Guizhou province was reported to be critically ill with the H5N1 bird flu virus.

  Seven people have contracted bird flu in China this year so far and five have died. Survivors include a two year-old girl in northern China who was critically ill before rallying last week.

  Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection responded to the latest death by issuing a health alert Tuesday warning people to avoid direct contact with poultry and follow hygiene rules.

  It also advised people to consult doctors immediately if they developed fever or flu-like illnesses after travelling to China or other affected areas.

  Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people are spending this week’s Chinese lunar New Year holiday with relatives in neighboring mainland China.

  Hong Kong saw the first modern outbreak of bird flu to infect humans in 1997 when six people died and eight others fell ill from the H5N1 virus.

  The former British colony has since carried out two massive culls when bird flu was detected in dead poultry, a policy which has so far spared it further human cases of the disease.