Bird flu in Turkey: more outbreaks

A hospital official said 26 people were being treated for possible bird flu symptoms early Friday, as authorities from the health and agriculture ministries attempted to manage more outbreaks across the east of Turkey. Most of the sick came from the town of Dogubayazit, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Van, the last large town in Turkey before the Iranian border. Two teenage children from Dogubayazit have died of bird flu this week.

Outbreaks were also reported in parts of Igdir, just north of Dogubayazit, Erzurum to the west and Urfa near the southern border, the Anatolia news agency reported, citing the Agriculture Ministry. All the patients were being treated at Van 100th Yil Hospital in the east of the country. Another 25-30 people had come in for blood tests, received medical care and left, and one was on life support, the hospital official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he wasn't authorized to speak to the press. Other doctors in contact with patients were not reachable early Thursday morning.

Authorities are closely monitoring the H5N1 strain of the virus, fearing it could mutate into a form easily passed between humans and spark a pandemic killing tens of millions. The Agriculture Ministry said Thursday that new bird flu cases were detected in five areas in eastern and southeastern Turkey and authorities were culling fowl in those areas.

Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker discussed combatting bird flu with the governors of eight provinces on Thursday, and said then that 7,000 fowl had been culled so far. A 15-year-old girl, Fatma Kocyigit, died on Thursday, only four days after the death of her brother, Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, 14. The girl was buried beside her brother, reports the AP. I.L.

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