Vietnam's Health Ministry has reported two additional human cases of bird flu infections, raising the total number in the country since November 2005 to four.
The two latest cases include a 29-year-old man from northern Thanh Hoa province, and a 20-year-old woman from northern Ha Nam province, according to the country's Preventive Medicine Department on Tuesday.
Specimens from the man, who was discharged from hospital on June 3 after showing such bird flu symptoms as fever, coughing and pneumonia, have recently been tested positive to bird flu virus strain H5N1. He ate a sick white-winged duck before falling ill, the department said.
The woman, suffering from severe pneumonia, is under treatment at the Tropical Disease Hospital in Hanoi capital. Local doctors are probing into why she has contracted H5N1.
Vietnam's first bird flu patient since November 2005, a 30- year-old man named Phung Minh Phuc from northern Vinh Phuc province, was discharged from hospital on June 11 after 26 days of treatment. He exhibited bird flu symptoms on May 10 after having slaughtered chickens for a wedding party.
Now, two local people are under treatment at the Tropical Disease Hospital: the woman from Ha Nam and a local man from northern Thai Nguyen province. The man, Vietnam's second bird flu patient since November 2005, worked at a poultry slaughterhouse in Hanoi on May 14 and developed bird flu symptoms five days later.
To date, Vietnam has reported a total of 97 human cases of bird flu infections, including 42 fatalities. However, the World Health Organization has yet to confirm the four latest cases of infections in the country's northern region.
Vietnam's Health Ministry has asked preventive medicine centers, Pasteur institutes and hygiene and epidemiology institutes nationwide to establish hotlines to receive bird flu information from the community. The ministry is also coordinating with the World Health Organization to probe into the possibility of H5N1 mutation.
Since early May, bird flu has hit poultry in 16 Vietnamese cities and provinces nationwide, namely Nghe An, Nam Dinh, Son La, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, Bac Giang, Dong Thap, Can Tho, Ninh Binh, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Ha Nam, Quang Nam, Hung Yen, Thai Binh and Phu Tho, according to the country's Department of Animal Health.