Bird flu claims second human victim in Vietnam this year

Business Materials 14 February 2008 10:19 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Bird flu has killed a man in northern Vietnam, the second human victim to die from the H5N1 virus in the country since the beginning of the year, officials said Thursday.

Nguyen Van San, 41, died at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi Wednesday after being admitted four days ago, according to Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department.

San lived in Hai Duong province, 50 kilometers east of Hanoi. He fell ill some ten days ago after he and others in his family ate two sick chickens, according to Dong Van Chuc, director of the province's Animal Health Department.

"No one else in his family is sick, but we are monitoring them," Chuc said. He said local authorities had culled 1,100 chickens in San's neighbourhood to stop the virus from spreading.

Last month, bird flu killed a 32-year-old man from northern Tuyen Quang province. Like San, the man had eaten infected chickens and ducks before falling ill.

Since bird flu first appeared in Vietnam in 2003, 103 people have been infected, of whom 49 have died.

"The risk that bird flu will spread among poultry, and also to humans, is very high now, as the weather is cold and a large number of poultry have been transported and slaughtered since Tet," Nga said.

Tet, the lunar New Year festival, fell on February 7 this year.

Nga said authorities have warned the population not to eat sick or dead poultry, and to see a doctor immediately in case of cough or fever.

H5N1 mainly affects poultry and wild birds, but can infect humans who have close contact with sick fowl. Scientists fear that if the virus spreads unchecked, it could mutate into a form which could be transmitted between humans, leading to a worldwide pandemic that could kill millions.