U.S. Health Experts Leave Iraq After Completing [b]Bird Flu Inspection of Northern Iraq Areas[/b]Publication: The Associated Press
Date: February 14, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A team of U.S. health experts left Iraq on Monday after completing an inspection of areas in northern Iraq where the country's only confirmed bird flu case in a human was found.
Health authorities believe one other suspect case, the dead uncle of the 15-year-old girl confirmed as having the deadly H5N1 strain, may also have contracted the disease, but final tissue sample results have not yet been obtained.
About nine other people have been hospitalized with bird flu-like symptoms, but tests have not yet confirmed they carry the disease.
The team from the World Health Organization, which was assisted by two American veterinary scientists based at a U.S. Navy laboratory in Egypt, arrived in Iraq between Feb. 4-5 and visited areas health facilities across northern Iraq as well as the town of Raniya where the girl who had bird flu came from.
U.S. Embassy health attache Jon Bowersox said the two American scientists returned to Cairo on Monday carrying samples of several suspect cases to be tested at their laboratory. The results can take between 24 hours to two weeks to come through.
WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said the six-member U.N. health team would remain in Iraq for several more days.
The team urged Iraqi authorities to continue implementing strict agricultural controls and said information on curbing the deadly virus will be distributed, Bowersox said.
Tamiflu medicine to treat bird flu is being sent to Iraq, while more equipment, such as personal protection clothing, is needed, Bowersox said.
Meanwhile, five angry poultry farmers interrupted a press conference on bird flu Monday, demanding compensation for culling their chickens as part of efforts to contain the disease.
But Agriculture Minister Ali al-Bahadli said authorities were responsible for compensating bird owners who had killed birds within a 20 mile radius of Raniya, the Kurdistan town where the girl who had bird flu came from.
"We didn't give orders to cull birds in other places and we are not responsible for those who cull their birds by themselves," al-Bahadli told the protesters.
Bird flu has killed at least 88 people in Asia and Turkey since 2003, according to the WHO. A WHO-sanctioned laboratory recently confirmed another two deaths in Indonesia. Birds carrying the virus have also been detected in Italy, Greece and Nigeria.
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Baghdad news: The 30 eggs package dropped to ID2500, from ID3500 (Avg. price) the past two weeks, in Baghdad.