Three hospitalised in Turkey over bird flu scare

ANKARA - Two women and a three year-old boy were admitted to hospital in Turkey Saturday after coming into contact with birds that could have avian flu, local health authorities were quoted as saying.

Anatolia news agency quoted officials as saying the three, from the village of Bogazkoy, in the southeast, were hospitalised with high temperatures.

A quarantine zone had already been imposed within a 10-kilometre (six mile) radius around Bogazkoy, where 170 birds died, including three other villages nearby, the Turkish health ministry said.

Earlier, the ministry announced that three of four children from the same village who were tested for possible bird flu infection after the potentially lethal H5N1 strain of the virus resurfaced in Turkey do not have the disease.

Samples from the fourth child, aged 18 months, from the village in the mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Batman, were inadequate and new tests would be carried out, the health ministry said.

The two women from the village now admitted to hospital are aged 33 and 68.

"The three ....had been in contact with fowl and have been transferred to the university hospital at Dicle", Hasan Demir, head of the local health authority was quoted as saying.

The hospital is in Diyarbakir, main town of southeastern Turkey.

"They will remain in hospital under observation until the results of tests are made known," the official said.

A man who had been in close contact with infected birds was already under observation but was displaying no symptoms, the ministry said.

Samples from dead chicken, where bird flu in poultry was confirmed last Thursday, determined that the virus was of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, the Turkish agriculture ministry said Friday.

All poultry in the four villages, totalling some 1,350 chickens, turkeys and ducks, had been slaughtered by Saturday, Anatolia reported.

No trace of the virus had been detected by Saturday in provinces neighbouring Batman.

A major bird flu outbreak in Turkey claimed the lives of four teenagers in January last year in a remote region near the border with Iran, from where the virus quickly spread to more than a half of the country`s 81 provinces.

Turkey`s east and southeast are the country`s poorest regions, where people are traditionally in close contact with poultry as backyard breeding is often their only source of livelihood.

The four children from Bogazkoy who were tested are aged between 18 months and 15 years.

The eldest child was in close contact with dead and sick birds, but had so far shown no symptoms of the disease, the health ministry said.

The other three children showed symptoms of respiratory tract infection, but had not been in close contact with birds.

Prior to this week`s outbreak, bird flu had been eliminated in Turkey since the last recorded case on March 31, the agriculture ministry said. More than 2.5 million birds were culled across the country during last year`s outbreak.

The four teenagers who succumbed to the disease a year ago -- three siblings and their cousin -- became the first human casualties of the H5N1 strain outside Southeast Asia and China.

Eight other people confirmed as H5N1 carriers by the WHO recovered after treatment.

02/10/2007 17:26 GMT

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