03/23/2005, 00.00
VIETNAM
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200 reported with bird flu symptoms in Vietnam

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A commune where a five-year-old boy tested positive for bird flu last week is under scrutiny after its inhabitants reported a flu epidemic.

Health authorities said they were looking into reports that 200 people had flu symptoms at Chau Hoa commune, Quang Binh province, 400km south of Hanoi.

WHO representative Hans Troedsson said the cases "needed to be rapidly and thoroughly investigated". "We have asked for an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Health," he said. Provincial health official Pham Sinh Quyet said a local team was sent to the commune on Saturday.

"The figure [of 200 sick] seems to be very exaggerated. We have discovered very few sick people so far after examining seven families," he said. "We discovered only one suspected case and the patient was transferred last night in a hospital in Hue, where we will get some samples to be tested in Hanoi."

The most recent bird flu victim in Vietnam was five-year-old Hoang Trong Duong, who tested positive for the deadly H5N1 virus last week. His 13-year-old sister, who died on March 9, is also a suspected case, but she was buried before tests could be carried out. The two children were in contact with sick poultry.

Thirty-four people, including a Cambodian national, have died of bird flu in Vietnam since late 2003.

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Human-to-human bird flu transmission feared in Indonesia
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