HANOI (AFP) – A Vietnamese girl has tested positive for bird flu, health officials said Tuesday, in the first reported human case of the deadly virus in the Southeast Asian country since early last year.
The eight-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province fell ill with serious pneumonia on December 27 after eating poultry and was admitted to a provincial hospital on January 2, said health officials.
"The test result was available on (Saturday) January 3," Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the national Preventative Medicine Department, told AFP. "She tested positive for the H5N1 virus."
The girl was now feeling better and was expected to be discharged soon, said Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, acting director of the Thanh Hoa health department.
Recent weeks have seen northern Vietnam gripped by the kind of winter weather conditions that provide a good breeding ground for respiratory infections.
Viruses survive for longer periods in the cold and when they do take hold stand a better chance of spreading from one person to another because of the increased tendency for people to spend time close together inside their homes.
Animal health authorities reported in late December that avian influenza had struck two poultry flocks in northern Vietnam.
Veterinary authorities culled 100 ducks and more than 4,000 chickens, while Vietnam's health ministry issued a nationwide bird flu alert, urging cities and provinces to step up detection and epidemic control measures.
The virulent H5N1 viral strain killed five people in Vietnam in early 2008, but no new human deaths have been reported since last March.