There are no signs that the bird flu virus spreading in Turkey is being passed among humans, according to the World Health Organisation.
But that has proved cold comfort to locals in Dogubayazit, the poor eastern part of the country where the virus broke out. Dozens of people have been protesting calling for better protection. Turkey’s Health Minister, Recep Akdag, has urged people to stay away from poultry and to keep their children away from the birds too. He says a total of fourteen people have so far tested positive for the virus, including three dead children. The latest diagnoses have been made in villages in the Ankara region, the farthest west that any case of bird flu in humans has been reported. But there is confusion over how quickly the virus is spreading because a team of doctors from the WHO has only confirmed four human cases. The mission leader says the best way of checking its growth is to control the disease in animals. Despite the risks, poor villagers in many areas have resisted turning in their animals, preferring to eat sick poultry. Others have disposed of dead birds by throwing them down drinking wells, doubling the chances of the outbreak spreading. Human cases had been confined to east Asia until the virus was identified in Turkey last week. Bird flu is known to have killed 76 people since the latest outbreak emerged in late 2003.