Eleven suspected human cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus, three of them fatal, are under investigation in Azerbaijan, the World Health Organisation said Thursday.
Maria Cheng, spokeswoman for the UN health agency, told АFР that the suspected victims, including eight members of a single family, all came from the same village near the Azerbaijani capital Baku.
"It is possible that they caught H5N1, because we already know that poultry were hit by the virus in neighbouring areas," said Cheng.
Flocks belonging to the patients had also been infected, but experts had yet to identify by what, she added.
Samples from the suspected human victims were being sent to a WHO-accredited laboratory in London to establish whether they had the H5N1 virus, Cheng said.
The results could be available in 24 hours or within two weeks, depending on the sample quality, she noted.
On Sunday, Azerbaijani authorities said they were investigating whether the deaths of two young children in the republic were caused by bird flu.
The two children were part of a family whose six members had been hospitalised with suspected pneumonia.