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Turkey Confirms 14 Human Cases Of Bird Flu

Turkish official dispose of chickens (AFP) 9 January 2006 -- Turkey has reported an increase in bird flu cases among people across the country, fanning fears that the deadly disease is sweeping westward towards mainland Europe.

Health Minister Recep Akdag said 14 cases have been confirmed by laboratory tests in three areas -- the southeast, where the disease first emerged last week, the central region around the capital Ankara, and Black Sea areas in the north.

The World Health Organization today confirmed all 14 cases.

However, Guenael Rodier, head of the WHO's mission in Turkey, also told Reuters today that there are no signs that the virus is being spread from human to humans in Turkey.

"Issue one is to see what is going on here in the village on site when it comes to potential human cases, so it is a matter of surveillance,” Rodier said. “But again, I do not think there are other human cases being picked up here at the moment."

Istanbul Governor Muammer Guler said 23 people in the Istanbul area are at hospitals amid fears they have bird flu.

Speaking in the southeastern Van region, where three children died last week, the health minister appealed to people to stay away from poultry.