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Preliminary Bird Flu Tests on Patient in Belgium are Negative

First test of a person has been hospitalized in Brussels have shown no signs of bird flu. The patient had gone to the hospital after retruning from a region of Turkey hit by the disease.

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A deadly strain of bird flu has already struck eastern Turkey

Belgian Health Minister Rudy Demotte said at a news conference on Saturday that preliminary blood tests on the patient initially feared to have been carrying the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu are negative.

The person hospitalized had returned Thursday from a trip to Turkey and gone to Saint Peter's hospital in Brussels after experience noted symptoms of flu, including a cough and a fever.

There has been some confusion over the man's identity. Some officials have said he may be a journalist who worked in Turkey covering the bird flu story; others say he was on vacation there.

Three deaths

Three people have died and 15 others infected in Turkey after the disease broke out among poultry there late last month.

The deaths were the first human casualties of the H5N1 virus outside Southeast Asia and China, where it has killed nearly 80 people since 2003.

Rich countries have pledged to increase cash for fighting the flu and a team of US experts has flown to Turkey to help fight the outbreak.

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