At least two people in eastern Turkey have died of bird flu, in the first cases outside southeast Asia. The country's health minister said a 14-year-old boy who died last weekend was found to have the disease, despite earlier results indicating otherwise. The boy's sister, who had also tested positive, died early on Thursday. A third sibling has symptoms of bird flu.
Her brother, 14-year-old Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, had already died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, officials said on Wednesday, confirming the first human death from the disease outside China and southeast Asia. "We lost Fatma Kocyigit this morning," Niyazi Tanilir, governor in the eastern province of Van, said on the CNN Turk news channel. Newspapers said Fatma was 15 years old. She died at around 6:30am (0430 GMT) on Thursday.
"There are two cases that have been confirmed as positive by the laboratory, said Mr Akdag. "Another case is suspected of being positive. We have a pandemic plan ready. There is no need to be too alarmist." Separate tests on samples collected from the family were carried out in two Turkish laboratories, medical officials said.
Murat Akova of Ankara's Hacetepe University said close contact with poultry was the likely cause of infection. "People who have close contact with animals should receive special treatment but vaccinations of the wider population is not necessary for now," he said.
Dr David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation urged caution among millions fearful of a global pandemic. "This is not the start of the pandemic. The start of the pandemic starts when there is human to human transfer, confirmed and sustained," he said. The H5N1 strain has been discovered in bird flocks in Turkey, Russia, Romania and Croatia, but had not previously spread to humans.
The governor said one patient was in a critical condition and another in a less serious condition. A World Health Organisation (WHO) official said the boy had probably died from H5N1, which would mark a dramatic shift westwards for the disease.
70 people died since 2003
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
If the boy's death is officially confirmed as being the result of H5N1, it would be the first outside eastern Asia where more than 70 people have been killed by the disease since 2003. The virus remains hard for people to catch, but there are fears that it could mutate into a form easily transmitted among humans. Experts say a pandemic among humans could kill millions around the globe and cause massive economic losses.