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The Vietnam News

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Bird flu claims fourth Vietnam victim of 2008

HANOI - Bird flu has killed a woman in northern Vietnam, the fourth person to die of the H5N1 virus in the country this year, officials said Tuesday. Nguyen Thi Thu Hien, 23, died Monday at a hospital in Hanoi. Samples taken from her tested positive for H5N1, according to Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department.

Hien was admitted to a local hospital near her home in Phu Tho province, 100 kilometers northwest of Hanoi, after she fell ill on February 14. She was transferred to Hanoi on February 21 after her condition worsened. "She and other members of her family ate five chickens during Tet [the lunar New Year holiday, which started February 7]," said Dang Van Chuong, head of Phu Tho's animal health department. "One of the chickens was sick." Chuong said the rest of Hien's family showed no symptoms of bird flu, but local officials have taken samples from them to test for H5N1. No bird flu outbreak in poultry has been reported in that province. Fresh bird flu outbreaks have been detected in seven provinces since the beginning of this year, prompting local authorities to cull more than 20,000 ducks and chickens, Nga said.

Bird flu has infected 105 people in Vietnam and killed 51 of them since it first appeared in Vietnam in late 2003. H5N1 mainly affects poultry and wild birds, but can infect humans who have close contact with sick fowl. Scientists fear that if it spreads unchecked, the disease could mutate into a form which could be transmitted between humans, leading to a worldwide pandemic that could kill millions.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - February 25, 2008.