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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 18:45 GMT
Turkey flu crisis 'under control'
An official collects poultry for destruction in Dogubayazit, eastern Turkey.
More than 300,000 birds have been destroyed so far
Turkey's prime minister believes a bird flu outbreak that caused at least two deaths and prompted a mass cull of poultry is under control.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking at a news conference hours after health officials reported a 15th human case.

In little over a week human bird flu has spread rapidly from eastern Turkey. Children account for almost all cases.

However the World Health Organization says there is no evidence the virus is passing from human to human.

WHO officials have also said they think that the outbreak in Turkey "can be brought under control relatively easily".

Turkey's agriculture ministry said on Tuesday 306,000 birds had been destroyed so far.

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The potentially lethal bird flu strain H5N1 has now been found in 19 of Turkey's 81 provinces, and as far west as the Aegean coast.

Human cases have been reported in eastern Van province, which also registered the two deaths; the Black Sea provinces of Kastamonu, Corum and Samsun and the central province of Sivas.

The WHO expects to know more about the spread of H5N1 in Turkey and the make-up of the virus when the results of laboratory tests become available.

Birds as pets risk

"The situation is under control and we will continue to monitor it closely," Prime Minister Erdogan said on Tuesday.

CONFIRMED TURKISH H5N1 CASES
Van: 7, including 2 deaths. A third death treated as "probable case"
Ankara: 3
Kastamonu: 2
Corum: 1
Samsun: 1
Sivas: 1

He added that the other 13 people still alive who tested positive for bird flu are "not at an advanced stage".

Earlier, Turkish officials confirmed that the country had its 15th case - a 37-year-old woman in Sivas.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Gulten Yesilirmak said doctors had found that her two children, who are also in hospital, are not carrying the same virus.

She said she developed a sore throat, fever and a headache after disposing of sick chickens that had died with her bare hands.

Doctors said she was in a stable condition.

Nearly all cases involved children or teenagers who had documented contact with dead or diseased poultry.

The WHO believes children in Turkey have been the main victims so far because they play with birds and keep them as pets.

WHO experts want an information campaign aimed specifically at children and their mothers to warn them of the dangers, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes at WHO headquarters in Geneva says.

The Turkish authorities are already using TV broadcasts, a telephone hotline and leaflets to improve public awareness of bird flu and ways in which its spread can be contained.




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One of Turkey's bird flu victims is treated in hospital



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