(Updates with a new confirmed human case)
By Ho Binh Minh
HANOI, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Bird flu has killed a 40-year-old Vietnamese man and infected another after both came in contact with infected chickens, state media said on Thursday.
The man died in a Hanoi hospital on Wednesday four days after being treated for lung and kidney failure, the Liberation Saigon newspaper quoted the hospital’s deputy director, Nguyen Hong Ha, as saying.
The Health Ministry said tests confirmed the man from the northern province of Hai Duong, 50 km (31 miles) southeast of Hanoi, had the H5N1 strain of the virus.
It was Vietnam’s second death from avian influenza this year and brought the country’s toll from bird flu to 49.
Health officials have been monitoring the man’s relatives since last week after he and his family ate two chickens that had died from unknown causes. Dead chickens have also been reported in the neighbourhood.
Doctors also confirmed another 27-year-old man had been infected by the H5N1 virus and was now in critical condition, state-run Vietnam Television said in its evening news bulletin.
The Health Ministry said the man from the northern province of Ninh Binh slaughtered two sick chickens on Jan. 31 and fell ill two days later with pneumonia symptoms. He was taken to Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi on Tuesday.
The patient, Vietnam’s third human bird flu case this year, was now on a respirator, the television footage showed. Last month, bird flu killed a 32-year-old man in the northern province of Tuyen Quang.
H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, possibly killing millions.
Not including the latest death, the H5N1 virus has killed 226 people among the 360 known cases. Most of the deaths are in Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, World Health Organization figures show.