The Chinese Health Ministry was quoted on Saturday as saying the girl, surnamed You from Zhejiang province, showed signs of fever and pneumonia on 10 February and was hospitalised.

 

 The woman, surnamed Wang from Anhui province, also showed signs of fever and pneumonia on 11 February and was hospitalised.

 

Both have tested positive for the potentially deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

 

French poultry

Meanwhile in France on Saturday, the authorities confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain of bird flu at a farm in the east of the country where thousands of turkeys have died.

Saturday's declaration of the first case of the virus in domestic farm birds in the European Union threatened to deal a severe blow to France's struggling poultry industry, worth $7 billion a year.

The outbreak was discovered on Thursday at the farm with 11,000 turkeys, where two cases of H5N1 had already been confirmed in wild ducks.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that laboratory tests by Afssa, France's national agency for nutritional safety, had showed the virus found at the turkey farm was 99% homologous with that found in one of the ducks.

The ministry added that an investigation was under way to establish how the farm became contaminated with the virus. 

Security zone
   

"What worries us, and this is why we have reacted immediately, is that the farm is within the protection zone that we set up for the first duck"

Dominique Bussereau,
French Farm Minister

Local sources said about 80% of the turkeys at the French farm, in a region famous for the quality of its chickens, had died. The remaining birds were culled.

Officials said a security zone of three kilometres and a surveillance zone of seven kilometres had been set up around the farm, as is usual under EU emergency measures.

Dominique Bussereau, the French Farm Minister, told French television on Friday: "What worries us, and this is why we have reacted immediately, is that the farm is within the protection zone that we set up for the first duck".