CAIRO, Egypt, AP – A 15-year-old girl who died earlier this month in northern Iraq was a victim of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, the first known case of the disease in the country, a U.N. official and the region’s health minister said Monday.
The U.S. Navy Medical Research Unit in the Egyptian capital conducted the tests determining the cause of death, using blood samples from the girl, the U.N. official said. He refused to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The official had been supervising the examination of samples sent by the government in northern Iraq. He said 30 other samples from northern Iraq were being tested.
The girl died Jan. 17 in a Kurdish area near the border with Turkey and Iran after contracting a severe lung infection. Her hometown of Ranya is just north of a reservoir that is a stopover for migratory birds from Turkey.
Her uncle, who lived in the same home, died Jan. 27.
“Today we started a campaign to kill birds in three towns — Ranya, Dukan and Qaladaza. We formed committees to do so,” said Kurdistan Health Minister Mohammed Khoshnow.
Turkey is battling an outbreak of the deadly virus. At least 21 there have contracted the virus, according to preliminary tests. Of those ill with the disease, four children died.