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Daughter May Have Given Mom Avian Flu

September 26, 2004|From Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — Thai officials are investigating the possibility of human-to-human transmission of bird flu in the deaths of a woman and her daughter who had symptoms similar to those caused by the disease, an official said Saturday.

The dead woman's sister, who is also suffering from flu-like symptoms, tested negative for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, allaying some fears, said Charal Trinwuthipong, director-general of the national Disease Control Department. But test results on the dead woman, identified only as Pranee, are not complete.

"We are not drawing any conclusion yet," he said. "This is quite a big issue and crucial to confirming the existence of human-to-human infection."

Nine people have died of bird flu in Thailand in two outbreaks of the disease since January, and an additional 19 have died in Vietnam. But most, if not all, of those cases are believed to have resulted from direct contact with diseased poultry or other birds.

Health experts are worried about the possibility of the avian virus combining with a human influenza virus to create a more deadly version that could easily be spread among people -- giving rise to a possible pandemic.

Pranee, 26, died Sept. 20 in a hospital near Bangkok. She is not known to have come in contact with birds, but had spent about a week in close contact with her 11-year-old daughter until the girl's death in a hospital Sept. 12 in the northern Kamphaeng Phet province.

The girl also had bird flu-like symptoms, but no tests could be done on her because she had already been cremated by the time officials were alerted.

Pranee's 30-year-old sister, who also took care of the girl in the hospital, fell ill with a similar respiratory infection Sept. 16.

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