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Dog dies of ‘bird flu’ in Azerbaijan

A STRAY dog has died of bird flu in the Caspian nation of Azerbaijan, health officials have said. It is thought to be the first time the virus has killed a dog.

Azerbaijan reported its first three human deaths from bird flu on Monday last week and confirmed the dog’s death just three days later, although the dog was said to have died the previous week.

The World Health Organisation has yet to confirm whether or not bird flu caused the human deaths, but said that the US Navy laboratory that carried out the tests was reliable.

The deaths of the three young Azeri women would take the WHO total for human deaths from bird flu to 101.

There have been no confirmed cases of one person passing the virus to another. Most people who have contracted it are thought to have been in close contact with domestic poultry that have been infected with the virus. But scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that can pass from person to person.

The deadly H5N1 strain of the virus was discovered in migratory bird flocks in Azerbaijan last month, before it was traced in domestic poultry.

The dog that died was found in the capital Baku on March 9th, health officials said.

"The virus has been found in a dog ... laboratory analysis is continuing," said a statement from an official committee against the bird flu.

A cat infected with the H5N1 bird flu was found dead in Germany late last month, which is the first known mammal case of the bird flu. There are unconfirmed reports that two other cats have died of the bird flu virus, also in Germany.