A 21-year-old woman has been diagnosed with bird flu and is recovering in a central Chinese hospital.

Chinese health authorities say the woman fell ill January 23 and was hospitalized three days later.

China's official Xinhua news agency quotes the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as confirming that the woman contracted the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which can be fatal to humans.

She becomes the seventh person to have contracted the disease in China this year - five of them have died.  

A string of deaths that began earlier this month, as China prepared to mark the Lunar New Year holiday, has sparked concerns about a possible epidemic. The holiday is a time when many Chinese return to their home towns and consume poultry in vast quantities.
Chinese health officials say there is no evidence that the potential for an outbreak of bird flu is on the rise.

The World Health Organization says bird flu has killed 248 people since it resurfaced in Asia in 2003.  Twenty-five of those people have died in China.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.