Woman dies of bird flu in Vietnam

22 Feb 2009, 0920 hrs IST, AP

HANOI (Vietnam): A 23-year-old woman from northern Vietnam has died of the H5N1 virus in Vietnam's first bird flu death of the year, a doctor said.

The woman from Quang Ninh province died yesterday 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 was raising, Hung said.

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

Quang Ninh is 160 kilometres east of Hanoi. 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.