Source Pravda.Ru

UN warns: bird flu strain has more chance to mutate

World

Five more children in &to=http://english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2002/06/09/29986.html' target=_blank>Turkey tested positive in preliminary tests for a deadly bird flu strain, as the U.N.'s health agency warned Monday that each new human case increased the virus' chances for mutating into a form that could spark a pandemic.

U.N. and Turkish authorities urged citizens to follow health guidelines for working with poultry, and to prevent children from coming into contact with dead birds.

There are now 15 suspected or confirmed cases of the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/mailbox/22/101/399/14916_flu.html' target=_blank>H5N1 strain in Turkey, after the new cases discovered in four separate provinces tested positive as H5N1 in Turkish labs _ indicating the disease was spreading.

"It's clear that the virus is well-established in the region," Guenael Rodier, a senior World Health Organization official for communicable diseases, said.

The WHO on Monday raised its own count of preliminary positive cases in Turkey to 10, but maintained its confirmed count at four "because we don't have the complete laboratory information" on the other 10, WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said in Geneva.

"Our numbers, essentially, are going to go up," she said. WHO does not count cases until its own labs have confirmed the results, which explains the discrepancy between the WHO counts and Turkish counts.

All five of the new cases reported Monday were children, aged 4-12, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Additionally, more than 60 people with flu-like symptoms and who had come into close contact with fowl were hospitalized as of Monday and were being tested, authorities said.