Preliminary tests conducted on a 43-year-old man who returned to the Indian Ocean French island of Reunion after a trip to Thailand indicated he may have the H5N1 bird flu virus, authorities said Wednesday.
Two initial tests for the deadly H5N1 strain were conducted Monday on the man's nose and throat, after he developed a cough. "The first was doubtful, the second positive," Reunion authorities said in a statement.
"There is thus a suspicion of flu of avian origin, although the symptoms are not very significant," the statement said. Bird flu is difficult to diagnose properly in preliminary tests, and false positives are not uncommon.
The man was hospitalised on Reunion with a fever and strong headaches Saturday, three days after spending a week in Thailand. He was being kept under observation and being given antiviral treatments while awaiting further test results, expected before the end of the week, the statement said.
It said 19 other people took the same trip to Thailand and have been questioned about their health. Among them, two have flu symptoms and were also being tested.