x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Vietnam reports first bird flu death in 14 months

Four-year-old boy who watched his grandmother kill a chicken becomes Vietnam's first victim of H5N1 bird flu virus in more than a year.

HANOI // A four-year-old child has become Vietnam's first victim of the H5N1 bird flu virus in more than a year, a health worker said yesterday, amid growing regional concern about the virulent disease.

The death comes as neighbouring China scrambles to contain a new H7N9 strain that hadn't previously been transmitted from birds to humans but has now killed seven people since February.

"A test result confirmed the four-year-old boy was infected with H5N1," said a staff member at the healthcare centre in the southern province of Dong Thap which handled the case.

It wasn't clear when the child died. Health officials in Hanoi were unavailable for comment.

It was Vietnam's first fatality from the H5N1 virus since late January 2012.

The boy, who was from a farming family, became unwell at the start of last week, the state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

After watching his grandmother kill a chicken, he developed a high fever and was admitted to hospital where he died, it said.

Hanoi last week banned all Chinese poultry imports and has increased border controls, including passenger temperature checks, in response to the new H7N9 strain in China.

According to the World Health Organization, Vietnam has recorded one of the highest numbers of fatalities from bird flu in Southeast Asia, with 62 human deaths since 2003, including two last year.

Neighbouring Cambodia is battling a recent unexplained spike in deaths from H5N1, which has killed eight people so far this year, including six children.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 370 people around the world, according to the WHO. Scientists fear it could mutate into a form readily transmissible between humans.