Drug poisoning mistaken for bird flu case at Narita airport

NARITA, Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) Medical and immigration staff at Narita International Airport were put on high alert Jan. 22 when a Taiwanese passenger arriving from Hong Kong collapsed with a fever and was suspected of having a new type of bird flu, it was learned Thursday.

A medical examination, however, found that the man was suffering from drug poisoning after having swallowed about 90 pouches containing illegal stimulants.

The man went into convulsions and fell into a coma in a customs inspections area after arriving on a Cathay Pacific flight, and a preliminary medical test indicated he was possibly suffering bird flu.

Officials briefly quarantined customs and immigration officers who were in contact with the man and closed an airport clinic that conducted the initial tests. A detailed exam later pointed to drug poisoning.