.contact us |.about us
News > International News ... ...
New death as bird flu spreads
( 2004-01-25 14:33) (Agencies)

Viet Nam has confirmed another human death from bird flu and two new cases of the virus that has stricken or killed millions of chickens in Asia and sparked fears of an epidemic worse than SARS.

The death of a 13-year-old boy -- confirmed by the World Health Organization on Saturday -- brings to six the number of those killed by the disease in Viet Nam.

Currently, Viet Nam and Thailand are the only countries where avian flu has been passed onto humans. An outbreak has hit several Asian countries in recent months: South Korea, Japan and the latest, Cambodia. A weaker strain, H5N2, has been found at a farm in Chinese Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday strongly denied accusations his government tired to cover up a bird flu outbreak.

"There has been a lot of talk that the government has been trying to cover this up," Thaksin said in a weekly radio address. "That we didn't say anything doesn't mean we weren't working. We've been working very hard."

Thaksin last week said there had been no cases of bird flu either in humans or poultry but admitted that authorities were awaiting laboratory results.

Until Friday officials had maintained the chickens were suffering from fowl cholera -- which they said posed no danger to people.

Thaksin sought to explain his government's slow response, saying it had to balance public health issues with economic concerns.

"If we came out to say this was (bird flu) without the lab results, it would have caused even more panic," he said. "The government has treated this as if it was bird flu."

The government says at least two Thai children have been infected with bird flu and warned anyone suffering from fever and bronchitis after being around poultry to seek urgent medical treatment.

The outbreak of bird flu in Thailand -- one of the world's top five poultry exporters -- has led the European Union, Japan, Taiwan and other economies to ban imports on chicken products from the Southeast Asian nation.

So far it is believed all the human victims caught the disease from fowl and there has been no evidence of person-to-person transmission.

But the WHO fears bird flu is highly adaptable and might leap the species barrier, combine with a human flu virus and create a dangerous new form.

Thaksin has come under fire for his government's handling of the outbreak.

It says anyone exposed to the disease should be quarantined to avoid contact with sufferers of regular human influenza, because a hybrid virus might accelerate the spread of the disease, The Associated Press reports.

A massive slaughter of chickens is underway to stop the spread of the virus. But the operation has its own risks with the WHO has warned that workers involved in culling can be exposed.

If the disease mutated enough to allow human-to-human transmission, health experts warn that the virus could become a bigger health crisis than SARS. That disease, also a virus, killed nearly 800 people worldwide last year.

"The more widespread it becomes, the greater the possibility that the (bird flu) virus could become altered and become more of a threat to the human population," WHO spokesman Bob Dietz said.

On Friday, a bird flu outbreak was confirmed in Cambodia, a spokesman for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization told The Associated Press.

Tests carried out by a French laboratory confirmed that samples of dead poultry contained bird flu, the AP reported.

  Today's Top News   Top International News
+WHO: Bird flu death rises to 15; vaccination recommended
( 2004-02-05)
+Solana: EU ready to lift China arms embargo
( 2004-02-05)
+Nation tops TV, cell phone, monitor production
( 2004-02-05)
+Absence ... still makes China hot
( 2004-02-05)
+Hu: Developing world in key role
( 2004-02-04)
+WHO: Bird flu death rises to 15; vaccination recommended
( 2004-02-05)
+Solana: EU ready to lift China arms embargo
( 2004-02-05)
+US Mass. court clears way for gay marriages
( 2004-02-05)
+Pakistan nuke scientist asks forgiveness
( 2004-02-05)
+Sharon ready for referendum on scrapping settlements
( 2004-02-05)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
  Related Articles  

+Poultry tops Hong Kong holiday menu despite scare

+Thailand confirms two cases of bird flu

+China vows keep bird flu out of the country

        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved