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China Reports 44th Bird Flu Death

Member of a Rapid Response Team (RRT) culls a rooster at a poultry farm infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus in Bhaktapur Aug. 2, 2013.
Chinese state media say another person has died from a new strain of the bird flu that has now claimed the lives of 44 people.

The official Xinhua news agency says a 61-year-old man from northern China's Hebei Province died Monday of multiple organ failure. It says he tested positive for the H7N9 virus on July 20.

China has reported 134 infections of the virus since it first appeared in March. That includes a case in southern Guangdong Province, which was mentioned in the Xinhua report.

Beijing has called off its emergency response to H7N9, which has not spread rapidly and has been mostly contained to eastern China. Only one case has been reported outside the mainland, in Taiwan.

The new strain of avian influenza has so far been more lethal in confirmed cases than another strain, the H5N1 virus, which has killed more than 360 people in the past decade. But there is concern the new virus could mutate and be able to spread more easily.

Scientists earlier this month reported the first case of probable person-to-person transmission of the H7N9 virus.

The case involved a 60-year-old man, who became ill in March after visiting a live poultry market and later died. The man's 32-year-old daughter, who cared for him while he was ill, also contracted the virus and died. Authorities say the daughter had no direct contact with birds.

Despite this case, authorities stress that it remains very difficult for the virus to spread between humans.