- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 29, 2005

HANOI — A 13-year-old girl has died from bird flu, becoming Vietnam’s 11th victim of the disease in the past month, a doctor said yesterday after worried Thai and U.N. officials met in the country for talks on the outbreak.

“The girl from southern Dong Thap province died early Saturday morning,” a doctor from Ho Chi Minh City’s Pediatric Hospital No. 1 said, requesting anonymity.

The girl’s mother, 35, died of the virus on Jan. 21, a night after being admitted to the hospital.

State media said the mother and child lived in an area where several chickens had died from the virus. They had slaughtered an infected duck for a meal.

The doctor said a 10-year-old girl also suffering from the H5N1 bird flu virus was in “very critical condition.” Another two patients are in stable condition in Hanoi after testing positive.

The virus has claimed 11 lives in Vietnam since Dec. 30 — and 31 since the end of 2003. Twelve persons have died in Thailand from the virus that has swept Asia since December 2003.

A man who was the first person in northern Vietnam to contract the disease was discharged from the hospital Friday. Hanoi resident Nguyen Thanh Hung, 42, lost his brother to bird flu this month.

Their youngest brother also tested positive for the virus but did not show any symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said, however, that more tests were needed to confirm his infection.

A delegation of Thai government officials met Vietnamese experts in Hanoi on Friday to exchange information and experiences in dealing with the epidemic.

The Tuoi Tre daily newspaper said the Thais paid special attention to the infection of the three brothers in case it was an example of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

A case of infection between mother and child has been reported in Thailand.

According to researchers from the Thai public health ministry and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an 11-year-old girl who died last year probably transmitted the virus to her mother and her aunt.

Bird flu has now spread to 28 of Vietnam’s 64 cities and provinces. More than 828,000 poultry have been culled since the start of the year in a bid to stem the spread of the disease.

Vietnam’s agriculture ministry has ordered that only fresh poultry products with quarantine certificates be transported out of districts or provinces.

“Any infected chicken brought into the city will be confiscated and culled,” the director of Hanoi’s Agriculture Department, Nguyen Huy Dien, was quoted as saying on state media.

“In some special cases, authorities will also confiscate the vehicle of the transporter,” he said.

Although officials in Hanoi said fresh poultry meat could only be found in a limited number of regulated markets, many traders were seen selling their products without quarantine certificates.

Demand for poultry is expected to boom as Vietnamese celebrate their traditional Lunar New Year within the next nine days.

Vietnamese think that a dish of boiled chicken is necessary in offerings to their ancestors.

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