Third Death in Turkey Reported

News Article -

        Turkey has reported its third bird flu death, an 11-year-old girl whose brother and sister died of the illness days ago.
        The latest victims lived on a poultry farm in eastern Turkey. The three deaths were the first human fatalities from bird flu outside China and Southeast Asia.
        While no official reports of bird flu in poultry have come from the province where the children lived, it is almost certainly there, as the children were reported to have had close contact with sick poultry.
        The vast majority of bird flu cases, both in animals and humans, have been found in Asia, particularly Vietnam and China. About 140 people in Asia, where the H5N1 bird flu virus was first detected, have been stricken and about half of them have died.
        Turkey recorded its first outbreaks of H5N1 in domestic poultry this fall, when the virus was brought into the country by birds migrating from Central Asia.
        At the moment, the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu virus does not pass from person to person. Health authorities worry that it might acquire those capabilities through a naturally occurring process in which flu viruses exchange genes. The more people who are infected with H5N1, the more the opportunities for gene mixing to occur. If a person were simultaneously infected with the H5N1 virus from poultry and the normal seasonal influenza virus, the body could allow for gene exchange to occur, potentially creating an easily transmissible human H5N1 virus. Should it acquire that capability, the H5N1 virus has the potential to set off an influenza pandemic. (Contact: Bob Ehart)

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Bob Ehart
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