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Vietnam confirms bird flu death, 2nd case in as many weeks

Bird flu has killed a teenage boy in Vietnam, the second human death announced in as many weeks as the virus continues to spread among poultry, health officials confirmed Tuesday.

The 15-year-old boy from Thanh Hoa province, about 150 kilometers (95 miles) south of Hanoi, died Friday while being transferred from a local hospital to the capital city. Samples taken from the patient came back positive for the H5N1 virus a day later, said Nguyen Huy Nga, director of Vietnam's Preventive Medicine Department.

Nga said the boy had been in contact with ducklings bought from a local market.

The latest death marks the country's seventh human case this year, four of which were fatal.

Last week, health officials confirmed a woman who was seven months pregnant also died from the virus.

The H5N1 virus continues to spread among poultry in Vietnam, killing or forcing the slaughter of more than 200,000 birds this year.

The country had been hailed as a bright spot in Asia for beating back bird flu after a nationwide poultry vaccination campaign was started. No human cases were reported in the country in 2006, but the virus flared again in poultry early this year.

The latest case brings Vietnam's death toll to 46 since the virus began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003. At least 192 people have died worldwide from the disease during that time, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus remains hard for people to catch, but experts fear it will mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases are linked to contact with infected birds.