U.N. Health Team Leaves Iraq After Bird Flu Inspection

A team of U.N. 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 area health facilities across northern Iraq as well as the town of Raniya where the girl who had bird flu came from.

The team urged Iraqi authorities to continue implementing strict agricultural controls and said information on curbing the deadly virus will be distributed, according to Jon Bowersox, health attache at the U.S. Embassy.

Tamiflu medicine to treat bird flu is being sent to Iraq, while more equipment, such as personal protection clothing, is needed, Bowersox said.

Bird flu has killed at least 88 people in Asia and Turkey since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. A WHO-sanctioned laboratory recently confirmed another two deaths in Indonesia. Birds carrying the virus have also been detected in Italy, Greece and Nigeria.