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Girl becomes 11th Thai bird flu fatality
Updated: 2004-10-04 10:59

An eight-year-old girl has died of bird flu in northern Thailand, becoming the country's 11th confirmed victim of the lethal virus this year, a health ministry official confirmed.

bird flu,thailand
An eight-year-old girl has died of bird flu in northern Thailand, becoming the country's 11th confirmed victim of the lethal virus this year. Here eggs for sale in Bangkok. [AFP/file]
"She died around 9:00 pm (Sunday) night (1400 GMT)," ministry spokeswoman Nitaya Chanruang Mahabhol told AFP.

The girl, from Phetchabun province, was the third Thai to die during a new wave of outbreaks that started in July.

At least 19 people have also died of bird flu in Vietnam since December last year and millions of birds have died or been culled across Asia.

The girl, who was not named by officials, was taken to hospital with a fever last week after eight of the family's chickens died and was confirmed Sunday as having the lethal H5N1 form of the virus.

The girl lived in a poorly ventilated one-storey house and helped pluck chickens after her grandmother culled them, according to a health ministry statement Sunday night.

"Friends discouraged her without any success," it said. One thousand chickens in the village were due to be culled late Sunday.

Thailand on Friday launched a "war on bird flu" with more than 900,000 volunteers carrying out house-to-house checks for signs of the disease.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has announced a goal of eradicating the disease from Thailand by October 31 and thousands scoured outlying villages and poor areas of Bangkok for sick birds and humans.

Bird flu outbreaks have affected 35 of Thailand's 76 provinces since the start of July to October 1, according to government figures.

Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Thai agriculture minister said the deadline would probably not be met but said the effort signalled Thailand's intention to address the issue vigorously.

The health ministry has sent bird flu testing kits and anti-virus drugs to 700 hospitals across the country to cope with a potential outbreak among humans.

Thailand, one of the world's largest poultry exporters before the bird flu crisis hit, also said it would overhaul its system of farming to try to prevent future crises.

Officials last week confirmed its first probable case of human-to-human infection of bird flu following the deaths of a mother and daughter.

Tests are still continuing to try to confirm that the girl had flu -- she was cremated before full tests could be carried out -- and to discover if the disease had mutated into a more contagious and lethal form that could trigger a wider health crisis.

A mutated bird flu outbreak was blamed for the deaths of as many as 40 million people worldwide in 1918. Thai health officials said early indications were that the strain had not changed much.

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