01/05/2006, 00.00
TURKEY

Bird flu at the gates of Europe, second death in Turkey

Fatma, a 15-year-old girl, dies after her brother succumbed yesterday. Turkish health minister confirms the H5N1 virus was the cause and announces further testing.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two deaths from the avian or bird flu at the gates of Europe have been reported. In 24 hours the death of a brother and sister, respectively 14 and 15, seemingly after being infected by the H5N1 virus, is changing attitudes in the Old Continent towards the epidemic.

The first death outside of China and South-East Asia was reported yesterday in Ankara when Mehmet Ali Kocygit died in hospital. He was from Dogubayazit in the eastern province of Van, an area that already experienced a bird flu outbreak. Today, his sister Fatma succumbed.

An official with the World Health Organisation and the Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag confirmed that in both cases the bird flu was the cause. Mr Akdag added that samples have been sent to the WHO and Britain for more tests

Since December 2003 successive alarm bells from South Korea to Vietnam have been set off warning people about the danger posed by the H5N1 virus. Mortality is 100 per cent in birds.

The first possible human case was reported to have occurred on September 27, 2004. Since then there have been about 140 known human cases with 74 deaths.

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