H1N1 can combine with other viruses: experts

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Influenza A (H1N1) has spread widely in Vietnam and worried health experts warn of the possibility that it can combine with other type of dangerous flu viruses and become a greater threat.

Tran Nhu Duong, deputy director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said H1N1 has accounted for approximately 50 percent of flu cases in Vietnam so far this year as against just 7 percent during the same period last year.

Former Deputy Minister of Health Trinh Quan Huan said it was very "worrying" that the virus is able to continuously change and pose risks of combining with other viruses including bird flu (H5N1) to become another dangerous, highly infectious virus.

Vietnam has recorded dozens of H1N1 infections so far this year. Recent cases were reported in Lao Cai Province in the north, with 37 students from the Lao Cai Ethnic Boarding High School showing H1N1-like symptoms.

According to the province's Center for Preventive Medicine, three samples sent to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology have tested positive for H1N1.

Doctors said Tuesday morning said all the cases in the school have recovered.

Lao Cai on April 27 had reported its first five human H1N1 cases this year in two families in Lang Tong Hamlet, Bat Xat District, which borders China.

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Doctor Nguyen Ba Hue, director of the Lao Cai General Hospital said the five patients have recovered and could be discharged on May 2.

Nguyen Van Suu, director of the Lao Cai Center for Preventive Medicine, told Thanh Nien that the province has yet to identify the source of the epidemic. But he said local authorities have set up a team to study the problem and initiate steps to prevent infections in the locality.

Two men, aged 23 and 46, from the northern province of Yen Bai and one girl, 12, from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa died last month of the virus.

H1N1 has infected more than 11,200 people in Vietnam since it broke out in 2009. It had claimed 70 lives by the end of 2011 before easing last year.

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