Bird flu kills Vietnamese boy
(dpa) - Bird flu has killed a boy in northern Vietnam, the fifth human fatality in the country this year, even as more avian influenza outbreaks have been detected in poultry, officials said Monday.
Do Van Huong, 11, died at a Hanoi hospital Friday after testing positive for H5N1 two days earlier, according to Nguyen Lap Quyet, director of the health department of Ha Nam province, where the boy lived.
Quyet said the boy was admitted to a local hospital in the province, 50 kilometers south of Hanoi, on March 9 with high fever and difficulty breathing. He was transferred to Hanoi on February 11 when his conditions became worse.
"The boy's family had 15 chickens, and they ate them in late February after some of the birds became sick," Quyet said. "Other members of the family are in stable condition, but we are monitoring them."
The latest death raised Vietnam's human death toll from bird flu to five since the beginning of this year, and to 52 since H5N1 first appeared in the country in late 2003.
In the latest outbreak in poultry, bird flu killed nearly 140 ducks last week at a farm in central Quang Nam province, 860 kilometers south of Hanoi, according to the province's animal health department Pham Ngoc Anh.
"We have culled the remaining 200 ducks at the farm and have taken all necessary measures to keep the virus from spreading further to other farms around," Anh said.
Fresh outbreaks have been detected in 13 provinces throughout Vietnam since the beginning of this year, prompting authorities to cull tens of thousands of birds. The virus also killed four endangered civets in the Cuc Phuong National Park last week.
Last week, the prime minister issued an urgent directive to all provinces and related ministries to step up measures to combat the spread of the virus.
The directive urged agencies to restrict illegal smuggling of poultry and ensure sufficient supplies of medicines in case of an epidemic.
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.