Bird flu hit two countries Saturday as it was confirmed that a man who died culling infected birds in Pakistan became the country's first human fatality, while a seven-year-old girl became Myanmar's first human case.
Pakistan's health ministry on Saturday also confirmed that one of the dead man's brothers who took part in the cull also died, but he was not tested for the virus, a ministry spokesman told AFP. It was not immediately known why the second man was not tested.
AdvertisementBut the spokesman ruled out any case of human-to-human transmission -- a development that could have signalled a mutation of the virus with the possibility to kill millions around the world.
Six people were confirmed to have been infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, all of them in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, the ministry said in a statement.
"Five of them have fully recovered. One of the confirmed cases died in hospital while his brother, who could not be tested, has also died," it said.
Ministry spokesman Mazhar Nisar said the confirmed victim, the brother who died, and two other brothers who were infected but survived all worked on the same cull of infected birds.
"We are not certain how (the brother) died because we could not conduct his testing," Nisar said.
Hospital officials in the provincial capital of Peshawar told AFP that the confirmed victim Muhammad Tariq died late last month, a few days before his brother, who was admitted with similar symptoms but was not tested.
The virus is usually transmitted to humans from infected birds but scientists fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions.
Nisar said there had been no human transmission in this case.
The World Health Organisation confirmed Saturday that the girl in Myanmar was hospitalised in eastern Shan state in late November after developing a fever and headache. But she was discharged this week after showing signs of recovery, a Myanmar health official said.
"She is the first human case (of bird flu)," the official from Myanmar's livestock department said.
The World Health Organisation said a team of Myanmar health officials were investigating to try to confirm the source of her infection.
"The case was detected through routine surveillance following an outbreak of H5N1 in poultry in the area in mid-November," the WHO said in a statement.
"She has now recovered," it said.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 200 people worldwide, mostly in Southeast Asia, since late 2003.
The World Bank said last week that international donors had committed more than 400-million dollars to fight bird flu at a conference in New Delhi aimed at devising ways to tackle the disease.