Iraqi Boy Was Country's Third Bird Flu Case: WHO

GENEVA (Retuers) - A three-year-old Iraqi boy in Baghdad has been confirmed as having survived a mild case of bird flu last March, the first confirmed human infection in the capital, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

"The Ministry of Health in Iraq has retrospectively confirmed the country's third case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus," the WHO said in a statement.

Initial testing on samples taken from the boy had been inconclusive, possibly due to their deterioration during shipment, but repeated tests using different methods has confirmed the presence of the virus, according to the United Nations health agency.

Iraqi officials said in March that the H5N1 virus had been found in poultry in Baghdad, but to date there had been no human case confirmed in the war-ravaged capital.

An Iraqi teenage girl and her uncle, both of whom died in January in the northern province of Sulaimaniya, were the country's first known human cases.

The WHO said on Tuesday that Iraq's outbreak was "now considered over." The disease affects mainly animals but experts fear the virus could mutate into a pandemic strain capable of killing millions of people.

The latest confirmed case brings the global total to 247 cases in 10 countries since 2003, with 144 deaths, WHO said.


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