The Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department has confirmed the second bird flu fatality of this year.

A 26-year-old woman from the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's Soc Trang Province died on January 28, five days after she was admitted to the hospital with a high fever and coughing symptoms.

The resident of Thanh Tri District was first taken to the local hospital on January 23 and transferred to the Bac Lieu Province General Hospital two days later.

She was later found to have contracted the Avian Influenza Virus H5N1 or bird flu. Her family members said she has slaughtered sick poultry and eaten infected meat.

The first reported victim of the H5N1 virus this year was an 18-year-old youth who tended ducks in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's Kien Giang Province.

The two deaths this year happened within the span of one month after nearly two years without any bird flu fatality in the country.

The Ministry of Health's statistics say that 121 H5N1 cases have been reported in Vietnam since 2003. Of that number, 61 resulted in death, equalling a 50 percent fatality rate.

"Bird flu H5N1 is still a disease with strong poisonous strength and a high rate of fatality," said Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology Nguyen Tran Hien.

Genetics analysis shows that flu types in the two recent cases are similar to that of a poultry virus, according to Hien.

"The bird flu virus hasn't been transmitted from people to people yet. However, we still have to be cautious about its high fatality rate," added Hien.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Animal Health Department reported on Feb. 2 that Thanh Hoa was the last province in the country to still have bird flu in poultry./.