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Hong Kong confirms second human case of H7N9 bird flu

Health officials in China are expecting an increase of cases as winter sets in. The last bird flu outbreak to affect China occurred in 2013 and killed 36 people. 

The patient was hospitalized Tuesday and remains in stable condition. Those in close contact with the patient were placed under medical surveillance, but none of them have reported symptoms of the illness.

The 70-year-old patient had traveled to Shenzhen and Zhongshan earlier in December. Authorities have not determined the source of the illness, but have noted that the man passed by stalls selling live poultry while in Zhongshan.

A Hong Kong government statement said cases of bird flu were "expected to increase in winter based on its seasonal pattern."

Another elderly man from Hong Kong, who had previously bought a chicken at a market in the Guangdong province, died Sunday from H7N9, roughly a week after being tested positive for the deadly virus. 

A total of 16 cases have been reported in China. China's Ministry of Agriculture told Reuters news agency on Friday the recent bird flu outbreaks have been handled in a "timely and effectively manner without spreading." 

China has culled more than 170,000 birds in four provinces since October and closed select poultry markets after birds and people were infected by bird flu. China is the world's second largest poultry consumer. Surrounding nations, including South Korea and Japan, have also culled hundreds of thousands of birds following bird flu scares in recent months.

kbd/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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