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2022-8-14 12:08:38

Malaysia Teen Afflicted With Flu Symptoms
submited by kickingbird at Aug, 21, 2004 10:10 AM from ABCNEWS

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Aug. 20, 2004 — A teenager in a Malaysian village hit by an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain has been hospitalized with flu symptoms, but officials said Friday it was unlikely she has the disease.

A health ministry official said the 16-year-old girl, whose neighbor´s chickens were infected, had flu and a cough but "it is very unlikely it is avian flu because she is not having fever."

Also Friday, the World Health Organization said in Manila that it was troubled that the H5N1 strain had appeared in Malaysia and that the virus appeared to be entrenched in parts of Southeast Asia.

"It is going to be a long and difficult struggle to eliminate this virus from the environment," said Dr. Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director. "And the longer it takes, the greater the risk to public health."

Malaysia´s government has declared a nationwide alert to stop the spread of H5N1 which has killed 27 people this year in Asia after peninsular Malaysia´s first cases were discovered Wednesday in fighting cocks at remote Pasir Pekan village near the Thai border.

A quarantine around the village was widened to 15 miles on Friday. Health officials screened area residents and gassed chickens, ducks and pet birds.

The teenager´s symptoms were discovered during the screening. She was placed "in an isolation ward as a precautionary measure," and may soon be discharged if there are no complications, the Malaysian health ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed that the government won´t hide information on the flu virus.

"This is the Cabinet directive to avoid any confusion on the issue," Najib said. "We don´t want anyone to suspect that we are trying to cover up negative developments on the matter."

Villagers will be compensated for culled birds, the government said, hoping to discourage fighting cock owners from smuggling their birds to Thailand to spare them. Border controls are being tightened.

Malaysia has said that the outbreak is isolated and that the disease came from Thailand, possibly through poultry smuggling or migratory birds.

Officials said the government started intensive poultry checks during Asia´s bird-flu scare earlier this year. More inspections were being carried out nationwide Friday at hundreds of poultry farms and bird parks.

Malaysia reversed a day-old decision Thursday to halt all poultry exports, instead saying it wouldn´t let any contaminated items be shipped out of the country.

Hong Kong, the Philippines and Singapore have halted poultry imports from Malaysia.

The ban is expected to cost Malaysian farmers up to $800,000 daily, said Lee Ah Fatt, chief of the Malaysia´s Federation of Livestock Farmers Association.

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