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14-year-old girl has bird flu

From correspondents in Hanoi

March 02, 2005

From: Reuters

A 35-year-old Vietnamese poultry market cleaner and a 14-year-old girl, both in the north of the country, have contracted bird flu, which has killed 47 people in Asia.

The Lao Dong newspaper said today the woman was taken to hospital on February 24 and tests confirmed yesterday she had the virus, which experts fear could mutate into a form that could pass between people and unleash a global flu pandemic that might kill millions.

The woman, from a district of the capital, Hanoi, is the latest bird flu patient detected in northern Vietnam, where fewer outbreaks have been reported in recent weeks, but where cool spring weather still favours the spread of the H5N1 virus.


A laboratory researcher said tests on the other patient, the 14-year-old girl, also confirmed she had the virus that had also infected her 21-year-old brother.

"The girl also has the virus," said the researcher at Hanoi's National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology which conducts bird flu tests.

Her brother has been in critical condition and on a respirator after a traditional drink of duck blood before the Lunar New Year festival last month, officials said.

The siblings and a 36-year-old infected man are from the northern province of Thai Binh, 110km south-east of Hanoi and far from the southern Mekong Delta where the outbreaks began in December.

Officials said the H5N1 virus killed a 69-year-old man last week in Thai Binh, taking the toll to 14 people in Vietnam since December and the total to 47 since the virus erupted across large parts of Asia at the end of 2003.

Almost all the victims - 34 Vietnamese, 12 Thais and a Cambodian - have caught it directly from poultry.

The Agriculture Ministry said poultry infections occurred this year only on small farms.

It has ordered a halt until June 30 to the hatching and raising of waterfowl such as ducks and geese, which experts said can carry the virus without showing symptoms.

But state-run Voice of Vietnam radio said on today farmers in several bird flu-hit Mekong Delta provinces had tried to avoid the ministry's order by letting their ducks wander off into rice fields to hide from inspectors.

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the world is overdue for a flu pandemic. the last two killed a million each. & the one before that in 1918 killed more ppl than world war 1.

it is a very serious threat, & that's y many governments are now stockpiling anti-viral drugs.

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