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Bird flu kills 4-year-old boy in Vietnam as virus flares

Bird flu kills 4-year-old boy in Vietnam as virus flares

Bird flu has killed a 4-year-old boy from northern Vietnam, a health official said Wednesday, warning that the threat of outbreaks remains high during the winter months when the virus typically flares.
The boy from Son La province tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus after falling ill with flu-like symptoms, said Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the Health Ministry's Preventative Medicine Unit. The boy died on Dec. 16 in Hanoi, five days after becoming sick.
Son La, located 300 kilometers (187 miles) northwest of Hanoi, has not experienced any recent bird flu outbreaks among poultry.
The virus typically resurfaces in Vietnam during the winter months, and a number of poultry outbreaks have been reported nationwide. But this marked the first human death since August. It was the country's 47th death reported since bird flu began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003.
Vietnam has helped to control the spread of the disease by vaccinating the country's entire poultry stock since 2005, but Nga said nothing is completely protective.
"Although we have finished vaccinating the poultry, we cannot be confident that the epidemic will not come back," Nga said. "Now it is winter when the virus usually flares up."
Vietnam's latest case comes as other countries in the region also are detecting human infections. Indonesia, the world's hardest-hit country logged its 94th bird flu death Wednesday, while Myanmar and Pakistan earlier this month reported their first human cases. The World Health Organization is investigating whether limited human-to-human transmission may have occurred in Pakistan where several people, including a number of relatives, tested positive.
At least 209 people have died from the H5N1 virus worldwide, according to the WHO. It remains difficult for people to catch, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.


Updated : 2020-12-01 14:21 GMT+08:00