Travelers on French island of Reunion may have H5N1 bird flu

Preliminary tests conducted on three people who returned to the Indian Ocean French island of Reunion after a trip to Thailand indicated they may have the H5N1 bird flu virus, authorities said Wednesday.

The three people visited a bird park in Thailand during their trip and photos showed that they were in close contact with birds, said Helene Monard, a French Health Ministry spokeswoman.

Reunion authorities said a 43-year-old man was hospitalized with a fever and strong headaches Saturday, three days after spending a week in Thailand, the AP reports.

Nineteen others who also took the same trip were questioned about their health. Among them, two had flu symptoms and Monard said their preliminary tests also were positive for H5N1. The preliminary tests were conducted on Reunion. Samples were then sent for further tests at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, where they arrived Wednesday. Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said results from there for the first patient were expected Thursday. A.M.

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