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Four Malaysians in Hospital for Bird Flu Checks

Four people are in hospital in Terengganu state after possible exposure to bird flu, Malaysia's health minister said Monday as officials monitored for new outbreaks of the deadly virus. Chua Soi Lek said the four were hospitalised in the eastern state's capital Kuala Terengganu after coming down with fevers and coughs. 'They have had contact with chickens and ducks which had died.

They are currently in a stable condition and are being investigated for the avian flu virus,' Chua said in a statement. 'All of the cases do not meet the criteria to be categorised as cases that are suspected to be infected with avian influenza,' he added. Kamarudin Mohammed Isa, head of disease control at the local Department of Veterinary Services, said tests had been conducted on chickens in the village of Seberang Takir, where the four people live, but no bird flu had been found.

'Only two ducks died. They also have other chickens so we took samples from the chickens and they were all negative,' Kamarudin told AFP. Health officials told AFP the four, including a 16-year-old boy, were hospitalised over the weekend but it was unlikely they had bird flu. Malaysia last week suffered its first outbreak of the deadly virus in more than a year on the western outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in central Selangor state.

Eleven people were hospitalised with flu-like symptoms after being exposed to dead chickens in the Sungai Buloh area and in a village in northern Kedah state, but all tested negative for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. One person is still under observation in hospital in Sungai Buloh, health officials said Monday. Kamarudin said mopping up operations were continuing Monday in Sungai Buloh but that culling of fowl in the area had stopped.

He said authorities were still trying to pinpoint the origin of the infection, but denied the virus had been spread by migratory birds. 'It's the off season,' Kamarudin said, adding monitorin
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