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Turkey Reports Two Human Cases of Bird Flu
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A 14-year-old farm boy died in a hospital in the southeastern Van province on Sunday, after developing pneumonia-like symptoms has tested positive for bird flu. Turkey's health minister said Wednesday.

The boy's sister, who is hospitalized and in serious condition, also tested positive for bird flu, Health Minister Recep Akdag said. A third sibling is also suspected of having bird flu, he said.

Akdag did not say if the boy had died of the deadly H5N1 strain, but he said samples were being sent to European labs for further tests.

Authorities are closely monitoring H5N1, for fear it could mutate into a form easily passed between humans and spark a pandemic.

The disease has killed 70 people — many of them farm workers in close contact with fowl from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

Birds in Turkey, Romania, Russia and Croatia have recently tested positive for H5N1.

The dead teenager, Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, was among two brothers and two sisters between ages 6 and 15 who were admitted to hospital last week after developing high fevers, coughing and bleeding in their throats.

The children helped to raise poultry on a small farm in the town of Dogubeyazit, near Mount Ararat — believed to be the resting place of Noah's Ark — and were in close contact with sick birds.

Dogubeyazit is some 40 miles away from the town of Aralik where Turkish authorities last week said some chickens had tested positive for an H5 variant of bird flu.

(Chinadaily.com via agencies January 5, 2006)

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