Friends and relatives have arrived at a hospital in eastern Turkey after news that the third child from the same family has died from bird flu. The latest victim of the outbreak was 11-year-old Hulya. Her 15-year-old sister Fatma died on Thursday and 14-year-old brother Mehmet Ali passed away last Sunday.
The children are the only human victims of the disease outside China and southeast Asia. The family live in close proximity to chickens, and it is reported that they had cooked and eaten infected poultry. For the moment bird flu is difficult for humans to catch, but there are fears the most deadly strain could mutate, triggering a global pandemic. The outbreak was in a farm near the town of Dogubayazit, close to the borders with Armenia and Iran. A mass culling operation is underway in surrounding areas. Extra supplies of the Tamiflu drug have been sent to the region – it is considered to be the best treatment for the disease, for which no vaccine exists. A total of 23 people are being treated for suspected bird flu at the hospital in the main town of Van.