Vietnam's Ministry of Health informed the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday that three recent deaths from flu-like illness were caused by infection with bird flu.
They are the first officially reported cases of the disease in the country since late February.
Eight local people from the northern province of Ha Tay and the two southern provinces of Hau Giang and Tra Vinh were hospitalizedfrom July 19 to August 8 after showing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing difficulties, of whom six already died. Of the deaths, three resulted from infection with bird flu, reports Xinhuanet.com
Hans Troedsson, Vietnam representative of the World Health Organization, said on Friday the ministry informed the U.N. body that one of three bird flu samples "preliminarily shows H5N1."
The same strain killed 16 people in Vietnam and eight in Thailand earlier this year and outbreaks of bird flu have occurred on poultry farms in several countries in Asia in recent weeks.
The sample was from a victim who lived in Hau Giang province and had come into contact with poultry, he said. The other two cases in northern Ha Tay province were still being tested.
The Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said on Friday the victims in Ha Tay province were a 4-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl.
Adding to the sense of alarm, the health ministry is urging the immediate hospitalization of anyone with high fever who had been in contact with sick poultry.
"There is no special medicine for it and no vaccine for humans," it said on Thursday in a statement.
Typical symptoms are coughing, high fever and sore throat. Death usually occurs within days, informs Reuters.co.uk