In reaction to the new reports, Hong Kong has suspended live poultry imports from the region.
In the most recent case of avian flu, China reports of a new bird flu outbreak at a poultry market in the southern city of Guangzhou, which was reported by the state media on Sunday.
Guangzhou is the capital of the Guangdong province and after the first reports on March 18, 2008, of the deaths of 108 birds being killed, China culled another 518 birds, according to the figures provided to the Xinhua news agency from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Reuters report cites a top Chinese doctor in saying that the H5N1 bird flu virus is mutating.
"Upon confirmation of the case, the government will ... (suspend) the import of live birds, live poultry and poultry products from the zone of 13 kilometres (8 miles) radius from the infected area for 21 days," a spokesman from Hong Kong's Food and Health Bureau said.
Although there have been only 372 known human infections worldwide since 2003, the virus's mortality rate is worryingly high. At least 235 people have died from the virus, according to World Health Organisation data.
Of 30 human bird flu cases in China, 20 have died, including three this year.
China has one of the world's largest poultry populations and it is believed they are crucial to the fight against the Avian Flu.
Before getting into other reports of recent cases, lets look at what the Avian Flu (Bird Flu), is.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the Avian influenzas occur naturally among birds. It is carried by wild birds, in their intestines, but generally does not make them sick, instead it carries a high contagion to domestic birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. It makes those domestic birds sick and kills them.
The infected wild birds shed the influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces and when the susceptible birds come contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds, they become infected.
Usually, “avian influenza virus” refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and has been limited, inefficient and unsustained.
The problem for humans infected with the avian flu is that the symptoms mimic the regular flu virus, with fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches as well as eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases and other severe and life-threatening complications.
Studies have shown that many medications used to treat the regular flu are effective for humans with the avian flu, although worrisome is the fact that influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs.
The infection rate among humans is small, but those that have become infected show a high mortality rate. (More than half the people reported infected with the virus have died)
In response to the growing worry about that high mortality rate, in 2005, the U.S. Government started stockpiling the avian flu vaccine as what they called an "insurance policy", and according to a Baltimore Sun article, many experts "suspect a widespread outbreak is inevitable."
In 2006, BBC published a report stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) was recommending that countries start stockpiling enough enough anti-viral drugs to cope with a pandemic, which it estimates would affect 25% of the population.
The countries listed their that were participating were, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and Thailand.
Human to Human.
In 2007, ABC reported that WHO had confirmed cases of human to human bird flu in one family, and although they said their was no further risk of the spread of the virus, they encouraged vigilance.
"All the evidence suggests that the outbreak within this family does not pose a broader risk," the WHO spokesman told Reuters. "But there is already heightened surveillance and there is a need for ongoing vigilance."
It was the first human-to-human case of H5N1 transmission in Pakistan, while others have been confirmed in Indonesia and Thailand in similar circumstances of what the WHO calls close contacts in a very circumscribed area.
Global health experts fear the virus -- which has killed 211 people out of 343 infections reported since 2003 -- could mutate into a form that spreads easily from one person to another, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions.
In November of 2007, reports from Saudi Arabia showed that over 9,000 chickens has died at two farms, according to Agriculture Minister Fahd Balghnaim and although he did not confirm they has died from bird flu, the deaths occurred one day after his ministry announced that 50,000 birds were culled at a poultry farm in Al-Kharj.
In January of 2008, Saudi Arabia's state media reported the slaughter of over nearly 160,000 birds following the discovery of bird flu south of the capital, Riyadh.
January 2008- The Ministry of Health of Indonesia announced that a 30-year-old male from Tangerang District, Banten Province developed symptoms and was hospitalized and receiving treatment.
120 cases have been confirmed to date in Indonesia, 97 have been fatal.
February 2008, China, Pakistan and Vietnam go on bird flu alert. China and Pakistan reported avian flu outbreaks among poultry, a day after two women, one in China and one in neighboring Vietnam, died of the virus.
That report states that China had already suffered four outbreaks since December.
China has three confirmed human deaths from bird flu this year.
In Pakistan, as of February 2008, they had reported their fourth case of avian flu in chickens, inside of one month and their first death of a human from the virus near the northwestern town of Abbottabad in December.
March 2008, India veterinary workers began culling thousands of chickens to contain an outbreak that occurred just one month after announcing that bird flu was under control in eastern India.
March 2008- Thailand announces that although there have been no new cases, they will be launching prevention drills, on a national level, throughout the country to rehearse responses and to assure the public that the government will be prepared.
March 2008, more reports from West Bengal.
March 2008- The Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt has announced a new human case of avian influenza, an 8 year old boy that was hospitalized on March 3, and is in stable condition.
Egypt has confirmed 47 cases to date, 20 of which have been fatal.
March 2008- New Dehli, according to the Gulf Times, show that authorities in West Bengal are conducting raids at night to "to catch chickens and ducks and counter unwilling villagers who have refused to hand over poultry."
The World Health Organization tracks confirmed cases of the avian flu aka bird flu and keeps an index of the list on their website, found here.
More information about the avian flu can be found at the CDC website, here.