Bird Flu :: Laos bird flu – teenage Lao girl died

A Lao girl, 15-year-old, has died from bird flu, the country’s first confirmed death from the H5N1 virus, reported by BBC and Reuters today.

The Health Ministry has stepped up surveillance and public awareness efforts to check the spread of avian bird flu.

“Knowledge can save lives,” Health Minister Ponmek Dalaloy said in a statement after the girl’s death in a hospital in neighbouring Thailand on Wednesday.

Since 2004, some 270 humans have been infected with bird flu in 10 countries, with about 167 fatalities, mostly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization. With the flu spreading around the world, the virus has turned up in birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. So far, bird flu has mostly been passed from birds either to other birds or, in isolated cases, to humans.

In June 2006, WHO reported the first case of human transference of the disease, when an Indonesian man died after catching the flu from his 10-year-old son. If the flu mutates into a strain that can pass more readily from human to human, people will have no immunity and the flu will probably pass rapidly from person to person, creating a pandemic. Flu vaccines can only be made to protect against a particular virus, and, since the virus had yet to be passed from human to human, no vaccine has been developed.

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