The father of a man who died of bird flu in China and contracted the virus himself has recovered and been released from hospital, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday.
The 52-year-old man, identified only by his surname Lu, was released Dec. 26 after 20 days in hospital in eastern Jiangsu province, and had recovered sufficiently, Xinhua said.
Lu's 24-year-old son died Dec. 2 in the provincial capital of Nanjing and was the country's 17th human bird flu fatality. The father started showing symptoms a day later and was confirmed to have the disease, health officials have said.
The Chinese Ministry of Health has not ruled out human-to-human transmission of the virus, although it said both men could also have been infected by the same source or been infected separately from different sources.
Bird flu is being closely monitored in Asia as experts fear it could mutate into a form that easily spreads between people, sparking a pandemic that some have said could kill anywhere between 5 million and 150 million people.
Ministry of Health officials were not available to comment Sunday.
The World Health Organization's representative in China Hans Troedsson said earlier this month the father was treated with the antiviral medicine Tamiflu at the onset of symptoms, a move that helped him recover. While there was no strong indication of human-to-human transmission, he said, China was still at risk of isolated outbreaks of the disease.
China, which raises more poultry than any other country, has vowed an aggressive fight against the H5N1 bird flu strain, which has sickened at least 333 people worldwide, killing 204 of them, according to the World Health Organization.
Xinhua did not identify the hospital where the father was treated.