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THIRD DEATH CONFIRMED AS CAUSED BY BIRD FLU

An 8-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, raising the country's death toll from the disease to three, officials said Sunday.

Ly Sovann, director of the Health Ministry's Communicable Disease Control office, said the girl died Thursday in a Phnom Penh hospital. Tests showed she had the potent H5N1 virus, which has killed at least 51 people in the region. Most human cases have been traced to contact with sick poultry.

He said the girl was from Cambodia's southwestern province of Kampot, where the country's two previous bird flu victims died.

Two previous victims of bird flu were a 25-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man. The woman died in January in a hospital in neighboring Vietnam, and the man died last month in a hospital in Phnom Penh.

The bird flu began ravaging poultry farms across Asia in December 2003. Thirty-six people have died in Vietnam and 12 in Thailand.

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