China Sees First Bird Flu Death in More Than a Year
Bus driver near Hong Kong dies
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2011 6:38 AM CST
Health workers slaughter chickens at a poultry market in Hong Kong on Dec. 21.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(Newser) – Let's hope it's an isolated case: A bus driver in southern China has died of the bird flu virus, the nation's first case in more than a year, reports Reuters. It's not clear how he contracted it: The 39-year-old apparently had no contact with poultry before coming down with a fever earlier this month. He lived in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, where authorities killed thousands of chickens at a poultry market 10 days ago after at least one tested positive for the H5N1 virus, notes the Guardian.

The virus nearly always stays contained to birds but is usually deadly if it jumps to a human, a trait that worries researchers fearful that a mutated form could trigger a pandemic. (The feds don't want science journals to print details about research into a version of the virus that might be easily transmissable to humans.)