Tuesday, January 17, 2006

H5N1 News 03/06- Turkey Battles To Halt Bird Flu Outbreak

Turkey reported another human case of bird flu recently as authorities sealed off areas around major cities Ankara and Istanbul while they culled poultry to halt the advance of H5N1 virus.

Three children have already passed away in eastern Turkey- the first reported human bird flu case from the bird virus flu outside China and Southeast Asia. Dozens of worried Turks have rushed to hospitals for tests for the virus across the country of 72 million.

Turkey has reported a dozen more people infected with the virus, with confirmed cases as far west as the central region around the capital Ankara sparking fears the disease could spread to people in mainland Europe.

Four people were taken to hospital with suspected bird flu in the town of Aydin near the Agean coast- one of Turkey’s most important tourism centres- adding to concerns the outbreak will harm country’s important tourist trade.

Health experts say the outbreak in Turkey is worst since one in Hongkong in 1997 when 18 people were infected and six passed away before it was brought under control. Bird flu has killed at least 76 people since it reemerged in late 2003.

The latest victim confirmed with bird flu was from the central province of Sivas.

Turkey has stepped up an information campaign on how to deal with birds and called on locals to comply with culling regulations, particularly in the poor mainly- Kurdish southeast. Sermons at mosques are also urging precaution.

The authorities have also sent teams of veterinarians in protective white body suits to a number of regions to cull poultry, seen as the best method of checking the disease.

The mayor of eastern village of Dogubayazit, home to the three children who passed away said many people were hiding their poultry because they did not believe government promises that they would be fully compensated.

Meanwhile, China confirmed its eighth human bird flu case on Monday, the latest victim a six-year-old boy from the central Hunan province who is being treated in hospital.

Indonesia said local tests showed a 39-year-old man had died from the virus earlier this month after contract with dead chickens. If confirmed, it would be the 12th victim in the country.

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