Chinese health officials have confirmed their second human death from bird flu as the country stepped up work to control fresh outbreaks, the reporting of which has become an almost daily occurrence.

A 35-year-old woman from a county in eastern Anhui province who died on Tuesday tested positive for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, Xinhua news agency reported. She is the third confirmed human case of bird flu in the country.

The Anhui woman, surnamed Xu, had contact with sick and dead poultry and died just 11 days after developing a fever and pneumonia-like symptoms, Xinhua said.

But Beijing said there had so far been no evidence of the deadly disease spreading within the human population. ?There is no proof of human-to-human transmission of bird flu in the world so far,? Chen Xianyi, a senior health official, was quoted as saying.

Bird flu has killed nearly 67 people in Asia so far since 2003. Health experts worry that the continued contact between poultry and humans and migratory birds will accelerate the disease?s spread within the region.

Last week China reported its human bird flu cases: a 9-year-old boy in Hunan province who is believed to have recovered and a 24-year-old woman in Anhui, who died earlier this month.

The Hunan boy?s 12-year-old sister also likely died from bird flu last month but her lab samples could not be confirmed in accordance with global standards. Her body was cremated shortly after she died.

There have been concerns there may be additional human cases that have so far not been reported, including in hard hit areas like northern Liaoning province, where Premier Wen Jiabao visited recently to advise local authorities. Outbreaks have been scattered around the country in the past month, even in parts of far western Xinjiang.

China?s government has admitted it faces a daunting uphill battle in containing the disease in the months ahead, especially as the cold weather may facilitate the spread of the disease. Beijing this week unveiled rules to hold local officials accountable for the accuracy and timeliness of their reports.

China?s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which operates under the health ministry,has been conducting tests on other possible human cases. In addition, the agriculture ministry has for several weeks been leading the effort to vaccinate billions of poultry around the country and have already culled more than 21m birds.

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