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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 13:11 GMT
Iraqis 'confirm' bird flu death
Iraqi health official in Sulaimaniya
Iraqi officials are calling on people not to panic or listen to rumours
An Iraqi Kurdish teenage girl has died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the Iraqi health minister has said.

Abdel Mutalib Mohammed Ali said the diagnosis had been confirmed, despite initial reports from a WHO laboratory saying test results were negative.

However the AFP news agency quotes him as saying that further "testing showed indications of bird flu or even H5N1".

A spokesman for the WHO in Geneva said further tests would be carried out at a laboratory in the UK to make sure.

Iraqi officials are investigating the death of the girl's uncle who had also been suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Four people have been killed in neighbouring Turkey by the H5N1 strain of the virus.

The Iraqi minister has gone to the northern city of Sulaimaniya to meet health officials to discuss efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

"The teenager Shanjin Abdel Qader, from the region of Raniya, who died on 17 January, succumbed to H5N1 virus," Mr Mohammed Ali told told Iraqi television.

"We took her samples to the international laboratory and initial test results were negative, but later more thorough testing showed indications of bird flu or even H5N1," he went on to say.

"We are calling on Iraqis not to panic or listen to rumours, but at the same to inform us if they suspect anything."

But he warned Iraqis "not to approach domestic birds and poultry as this is the main way of spreading the disease".



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