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Five in Turkey infected with H5N1 virus: health official

At least five people-three in Ankara and two in Van-have tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, a Turkish official said on Sunday. They are on treatment.//

Turan Buzgan, head of the health ministry's Basic Health Services, told the press that so far 28 people were tested at a government laboratory in Ankara.

This brought to nine the total number of people infected with H5N1, the most virulent form of the virus, since the outbreak began last month; two of the nine have died.

Teenage siblings who died of bird flu in Turkey were the first humans outside East Asia to succumb to Bird flu that has apparently been spread by migratory birds.

A British laboratory confirmed on Saturday that the 15-year-old girl and her 14-year-old brother were infected with the virus. Testing is continuing on an 11-year-old sister who died Friday. She had similar symptoms and the clinical course of her illness was the same. So it is highly probable that she died of H5N1.

International health officials are of the opinion that the disease has been simmering in the eastern part of Turkey for months, even though it was reported there only in late December.

The Ankara cases have the most alarming implications because bird flu had not been previously reported in that part of the country, and it is a relatively well-off area where it is not the norm for humans and animals to live under one roof. The infected boys had contact with dead wild ducks, and the man with a dead chicken, said a ministry spokesman.

In addition to the confirmed cases, some 50 other people suspected of having the disease have been hospitalized, at least 30 in the Van area and about 20 in Ankara, a Health Ministry spokesman said.

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