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Bird flu kills woman, 23, in Vietnam

A 23-YEAR-OLD woman has died of the H5N1 virus in Vietnam's first human bird flu death of the year, a doctor said yesterday.

The woman from Quang Ninh province, 160 kilometers east of Hanoi, died on Saturday after battling with the disease for three weeks, said Nguyen Quoc Hung, deputy director of the provincial General Hospital, where the woman was treated.

The woman, who had previously tested positive for bird flu, became ill after slaughtering and eating chickens her family had raised, Hung said.

Five other family members who had also eaten the chicken showed no symptoms.

In early January, an 8-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province tested positive for bird flu, Vietnam's first reported human case in more than 10 months.

Bird flu has killed 53 people in Vietnam, including five last year, since it began raging through Asian poultry stocks in late 2003.

The H5N1 strain has killed at least 255 people worldwide since 2003, most through contact with sick birds. Scientists are monitoring the virus because of its potential to mutate into a new human influenza virus, which could infect millions.

Meanwhile, a Nepal health official says a deadly strain of bird flu virus has been found in poultry in the country's southeast just days after officials declared the Himalayan nation free of the disease.


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