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Turkey Confirms Third Human Death From Bird Flu

Relatives of Fatma Kocyigit, Turkey's second victim of bird flu, is buried in the town of Dogubeyazit, 5 January (epa) 12 January 2006 -- Authorities in Turkey say a child who died last week was a victim of bird flu, raising to three the number of bird flu deaths in the country.

The child, Hulya Kocyigit, was the sister of the other two victims.

The Turkish Health Ministry also says it has identified the virus in two other people who had come into contact with sick chicken. The new test results bring the number of people infected with the virus in Turkey to at least 18.

Health officials say all of the victims probably caught the virus from direct contact with infected birds. They say there is no evidence to suggest the bird-flu virus has mutated into a form easily transmittable among humans.

Despite the spread of bird flu to Turkey, the World Health Organization says Asia remains the epicenter because of contact between humans and poultry is more commonplace there.

At least 78 people have died of bird flu since 2003, most of them in Southeast Asia and China.

(AP, AFP, Reuters)