A fourth child with flu symptoms has been hospitalized as a precaution after an outbreak of bird flu in a village in southeastern Turkey, officials said Friday.
The four children, between the ages of 1 and 16, reportedly came in contact with sick fowl in the village of Bogazkoy, where 170 domestic fowl died of bird flu. Three of the children had already been hospitalized on Thursday.
Tests were under way to determine whether the birds died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu and whether the children caught the virus.
Experts worry the H5N1 strain of the virus, which remains hard for people to catch, will mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially sparking a pandemic.
So far, most cases of human infection have been traced to direct contact with infected birds, reports AP.
During an outbreak of H5N1 in Turkey in January 2006, 12 people were infected and four of them died.
The latest outbreak, in Bogazkoy, which is in Batman province, was first reported on Feb. 5. Authorities said they have quarantined three villages in the province and culled about 1,650 birds.
The Agriculture Ministry on Thursday confirmed that samples tested positive for bird flu but stressed that more tests were needed to determine whether it was the H5N1 strain.
H5N1 has claimed at least 165 human lives worldwide since it began spreading through Asian poultry farms in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization.