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Pakistan tests for bird flu after 2 poultry farm workers die

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistani authorities were testing the country's first suspected fatalities from H5N1 bird flu after two poultry farm workers died this week, a hospital official said Friday.

The workers, from northwestern Mansehra district, were hospitalized in Peshawar over the weekend with fever and flu-like symptoms. They died in the isolation ward of the Khyber Teaching Hospital on Monday, said Khushdil Khan, the hospital's medical superintendent.

Blood samples were sent to the Health Ministry in Islamabad for clinical analysis and were being tested for H5N1, but there was as yet no confirmation of the cause of the deaths, Khan said.

He said the U.N. World Health Organization had been informed.

WHO in Islamabad referred inquiries about the case to the Health Ministry where officials declined comment Friday.

H5N1 and other forms of bird flu have hit Pakistan poultry farms in the past two years but there have been no confirmed cases of humans contracting the disease.

WHO has recorded more than 200 deaths from H5N1 since 2003, mostly in Southeast Asia and China.

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