January 2006 — Turkey today reported more cases of bird flu among its citizens, sparking neighboring countries to take precautionary measures against the disease’s spread.
Turkish authorities say 14 people have now been infected, including three children who died last week from the lethal H5N1 strain in the southeastern Van region.
Another 78 people are suspected of having the virus.
Van resident Hashem Taj voiced the fears of local people in an interview today with RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service.
“Certainly, there is panic among the people. Everybody is concerned,” he said. “You hear that somebody’s chicken in the neighborhood has died and you get concerned and nobody comes to check it. They were supposed to come and collect the dead [chickens]. In fact, the government will compensate for the financial losses.”
The World Health Organization today confirmed all 14 cases. But it said there are no signs that the virus in Turkey has mutated to spread from people to people — the main concern of experts who warn of a possible pandemic.
Meanwhile, the European Union announced a ban on untreated feathers from countries around Turkey, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Russian officials also said today that border controls with Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have been reinforced to help prevent bird flu enter the country.
And in China, health officials announced the country’s eighth case of a human contracting bird flu. The report did not detail how the 6-year-old boy got the virus.