Turkish teenager dies from bird flu

Thursday, January 5, 2006

A 14 year old Turkish male has died from bird flu in Turkey. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is most likely the teenager died from the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

The teenager's sister has also been infected with another sibling also suspected to have the virus. Eight other people, mostly from the same family have been hospitalized in the city of Van, Turkey with flu-like symptoms.

The children were from Dogu Beyazit, a farming town in eastern Turkey. It is believed that the children raised poultry on a small farm and may have been in contact with sick birds. The family also ate diseased poultry.

The young male was originally thought to have died from a pnuemonia related infection. Later tests revealed that the male had in fact died from bird flu.

According to Huseyin Avni Sahin, the head doctor of the hospital in Van where the teenager was treated, "(The boy) died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu". Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag gave no specific details and said samples had been sent to the WHO and Britain for more tests.

If the teenager is confirmed to have had H5N1, it would be the first death from H5N1 in Europe.

Huseyin Avni Sahin has requested more ventilators to treat the ill people.

While H5N1 remains difficult for humans to contract, authorities fear it may mutate into a form that is passable among humans. Such a mutation could kill millions of people around the globe.