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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 19:56 GMT
Iraqi girl's death not bird flu
The World Health Organization has dispelled fears that a girl who died in northern Iraq earlier this week had contracted bird flu.

She died in the city of Sulaymaniyah after an illness lasting 15 days.

Tests were carried out to see whether she had the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed four people in Turkey, but the results were negative.

Since 2003, the H5N1 virus has killed around 80 people and thousands of poultry in South-East Asia and China.

All human deaths so far are believed to have been caused by contact with infected birds.

While experts warn that a mutant form of the virus that transmits between humans could lead to a pandemic, so far there is no evidence of this taking place.

'Discounted'

Dick Thompson, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, told Reuters news agency the case had been "investigated and discounted".

"It is not an H5N1 case," he said.

The girl suspected of having the disease was from the town of Raniya, in a border region of Kurdish northern Iraq, Kurdish regional health minister Mohammed Khashnow told Reuters news agency.

She died shortly after arriving at a hospital in the main city of Sulaymaniyah.

Mr Khasnow told the agency the rest of the girl's family were in good health.




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