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Originally published March 31, 2013 at 9:08 PM | Page modified April 1, 2013 at 5:46 AM

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New strain of avian flu kills 2 in China

Two men have died in Shanghai after contracting a strain of avian flu that had not been previously found in humans, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.

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SHANGHAI — Two men have died here after contracting a strain of avian flu that had not been previously found in humans, Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reported Sunday.

The authorities said the two Shanghai men, 27 and 87 years old, fell ill after contracting the H7N9 strain in February and died in March.

A third person, a 35-year-old woman from the city of Chuzhou, in neighboring Anhui province, also contracted the strain and is critically ill.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission said it was unclear how the three had been infected.

The commission said in a statement that all three showed symptoms of coughing and fever, which later developed into pneumonia and difficulty breathing.

The health authorities said tests identified the H7N9 strain in the three victims.

The government said that the three had not had mutual contact and that dozens of people who had contact with them did not appear to have been affected.

The H7N9 strain of avian — or bird — flu had not been previously found in humans. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the strain was present on Saturday, the health commission said.

The commission said the strain was not believed to be highly contagious among humans.

Another strain of avian flu, H5N1, has led to hundreds of deaths since 2003 and has killed millions of birds.

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