Bird flu 'possibly linked' to 11 human deaths

A bird flu outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 000 chickens in Vietnam is suspected of being linked to the deaths of 10 children and an adult in Hanoi, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

Viruses in both the chickens and the people appear to be similar—but further testing is being done.

“There is a possible link,” said Peter Horby, a WHO epidemiologist in Hanoi. “In the past, chickens have infected people in outbreaks in Hong Kong in 1997 and again in 2003.”

Horby said he’s expected to meet with the Ministry of Health on Tuesday to further discuss the possible connection, but he’s optimistic it can be contained.

“Whatever they’ve got, there doesn’t seem to be widespread transmission,” he said. “It’s encouraging that’s it’s not spreading.”

In addition to the 11 deaths, three others are sick with the virus. All the cases are in Hanoi.

Horby said all the victims are believed to have come into contact with poultry before falling ill.—Sapa-AP

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