- Associated Press - Friday, December 30, 2011

BEIJING (AP) - Local health authorities say a bus driver has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong where two birds were confirmed to have the same virus last week.

The 39-year-old man surnamed Chen was hospitalized with a fever on Dec. 21 and tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 on Friday, said a statement on the websites of the Shenzhen city and Guangdong provincial health authorities.

Guangdong experts suspect Chen has been infected with H5N1 and have reported the case to the Health Ministry for further diagnosis. The Ministry of Health has informed the World Health Organization, the statement said.

Chen is in critical condition and receiving emergency treatment, it said, adding that during the month prior to his fever, he had no direct contact with poultry and had not traveled out of Shenzhen.

The news comes a week after two dead birds tested positive for the same virus in Hong Kong, separated from Shenzhen by a small river.

More than 19,000 birds at a Hong Kong market were slaughtered and imports and sales of live poultry were banned for three weeks after a chicken carcass tested positive for H5N1. Lab tests later confirmed that an Oriental magpie robin found dead on Dec. 17 was also infected.

WHO says globally there have been 336 human deaths from 573 confirmed bird flu cases since 2003 when it was first detected.

The majority of human cases of H5N1 infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected poultry.

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