Bird flu: India records first suspected death
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Bird flu: India records first suspected death

The suspected case, a 27-year-old poultry farm owner, died on Friday.

india Updated: Feb 19, 2006 13:43 IST
Krittivas Mukherjee and Kerstin Gemlich (Reuters)
Krittivas Mukherjee and Kerstin Gemlich (Reuters)

The Government of India said on Sunday a poultry farm owner is the country's first suspected death from bird flu.

France confirmed its first cases of the H5N1 virus as the disease spread further around the globe.

Avian influenza has flared anew in recent weeks, spreading quickly among birds in Europe and parts of Africa, prompting authorities to impose bans on poultry trade, mass culling in infected areas and vaccinations of poultry flocks.

Iraq, too, is on alert after two people died of bird flu there and fears grow that the virus might mutate just enough to allow it to pass easily between people, triggering a pandemic in which millions could die.

A senior official said the suspected case, a 27-year-old poultry farm owner, died on Friday.

"Local tests have confirmed bird flu but we have sent samples to the national laboratory. A final report is awaited," Vatsala Vasudev, the top district administrator of Surat told.

Adding to the sense of crisis in India, blood samples of eight people have also been sent for testing.

Four other people, including three children, were under observation. It was unclear if the farm owner was among the eight being tested.

"We sent blood samples of these people who are associated with poultry because they had cold and cough," Vijay Satbir Singh, Maharashtra's top health official, said.

In France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, the farm ministry confirmed that a duck found dead on Monday in the east of the country had H5N1.

"This virus is 99 per cent identical with the virus of Asian origin," the ministry said in a statement.

France's H5N1 case was one of several wild ducks found dead near Lyon in a region famous for the quality of its chickens.


German authorities said H5N1, first confirmed in two dead swans in the country on Tuesday, had spread across the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen, a popular resort.

State and federal authorities sealed off several areas to the public.

They said another 28 dead birds on Ruegen had been found to have H5N1, raising the total to 41.

"We're facing an extremely serious situation," said Till Backhaus, agriculture minister in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern near the Polish border.

Austria found two cases of bird flu near Vienna, raising the total number of cases there to seven and prompting a nationwide order to confine poultry indoors, the health ministry said.

Authorities in Bulgaria put a man in an isolation chamber and were testing him for bird flu on Saturday after two of his ducks died, but said he was not showing symptoms of the disease.

The disease also spread in Egypt, which reported its first cases of H5N1 on Friday.

The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 171 people worldwide since late 2003, killing 93 of them. Two hundred million birds across Asia, parts of the Middle East, Europe and Africa have died of the virus or been culled.

Health workers in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, began culling about 300,000 chickens and vaccinating birds on Sunday.

In Gujarat, an official said the state's borders had been sealed to all poultry trade after the reported death.

Indonesia confirmed on Saturday that a 19th person had died of bird flu, which has been reported in chickens and other domesticated fowl in most provinces of the sprawling country of 220 million people and 17,000 islands.

The country's health minister said at the weekend that fowl kept in the yards of homes in urban areas, a common practice across the country, threatened to spread the disease and getting rid of the fowl would help limit the spread of the virus.

"One of these methods is making urban areas free of fowl and limiting their movements," the Media Indonesia newspaper quoted Siti Fadilah Supari as saying on Saturday.

First Published: Feb 19, 2006 13:43 IST