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nikos
05-01-06, 12:58
Coincidental Symptoms? 05 Jan 2006 11:24:00

By Tina Valaoura



Sources: ANA, Reuters, Associated Press


The World Health Organisation could be counting for the two first deaths from bird flu outside China and southeastern Asia. We are talking about two children in Turkey, who had consumed poultry infected with H5N1 and then died. The first victim, a 14-year-old boy, breathed his last on Sunday at the city hospital in Van. Doctors had originally said he died of pneumonia, but changed their statements today, stressing he was most probably infected with the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. His 15-year-old sister, who was also hospitalised with the same symptoms, died early in the morning. Now doctors are closely monitoring the third child of the tragic family, who is also hospitalised showing signs of bird flu infection.


The children were living in a village in Dogubayazit near the borders with Iran and working in a poultry farm, where they consumed infected meat.
Governor of Van Niyazi Tanilir told CNN Turk that two more people (one in critical condition) have been infected and remain in hospital.

Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag did not wish to elaborate on the boy’s death. He only said another suspicious case is monitored and tried to appear reassuring. "We don’t expect a pandemic or anything like that in Turkey, but there is a real risk for people who are in close contact with fowl," he said and added that samples have been sent to the WHO and to specialised British labs.

However, the World Health Organisation sounded the alarm, because if cases are confirmed as the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the deaths would mark a major shift westwards to the edge of Europe. "This is not the start of the pandemic. The start of the pandemic starts when there is human to human transfer, confirmed and sustained," said Dr. David Nabarro, senior coordinator for avian influenza at the United Nations.


The H5N1 strain has been found in migratory birds in Turkey, Russia, Romania and Croatia, but no human case has been recorded so far than in Asian countries, where some 70 people have lost their lives since 2003.