U.N. official report that Iraqi girl who died in Kurdistan had bird flu

A United Nations official and the health minister in Iraqi Kurdistan on Monday said a 15-year-old girl who died earlier this month in northern Iraq was a victim of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the first known case of the disease in the country.

"Today we started a campaign to kill birds in three towns, Ranya, Dukan and Qaladaza. We formed committees to do so," said Kurdistan Health Minister Mohammed Khoshnow.

The U.N. official, who refused to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said testing on blood samples from the girl, who died Jan. 17, were done at the U.S. Navy Medical Research Unit in the Egyptian capital.

The official had been supervising the examination of samples sent by the regional government in northern Iraq. He said 30 other samples from northern Iraq were being tested.

The girl died in a Kurdish area near the border with Turkey and Iran died after contracting a severe lung infection. Her hometown of Raniya is just north of a reservoir that is a stopover for migratory birds from Turkey.

Her uncle, who lived in the same home, died Jan. 27. The two lived near Ranya, which is just north of a reservoir that is a stopover for migratory birds from Turkey.

Turkey is battling an outbreak of the deadly virus. At least 21 there have contracted the virus, according to preliminary tests. Of those ill with the disease, four children died, reports the AP. I.L.