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updated 2/8/2009 3:36:03 PM ET 2009-02-08T20:36:03

A melee broke out in northern Vietnam when more than 100 villagers prevented authorities from destroying chickens to stop the spread of bird flu, officials said Sunday as the country announced its second H5N1 case.

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About 100 villagers in Thuong Tin district just outside Hanoi overwhelmed police and health authorities Thursday and stopped them from destroying about 1,500 chickens smuggled in from China, said official Vu Van Dung.

As about 30 police and health officials removed the poultry from a truck to burn in a pit, the villagers — desperate for the income the birds could provide — grabbed the chickens and ran off.

"I told the villagers that the chickens had been sprayed with chemicals and were not edible, but they didn't listen," Dung said. "They grabbed chickens from us, and we were overwhelmed."

Meanwhile, in northern Quang Ninh province, tests results confirmed Friday that a 23-year-old woman was infected with the H5N1 virus.

Bird flu basicsShe was on a respirator since being hospitalized five days ago, hospital deputy director Nguyen Quoc Hung said. The woman became ill after slaughtering and eating chickens her family was raising.

Five other family members who had also eaten the chicken showed no symptoms.

In early January, an 8-year-old girl from northern Thanh Hoa province tested positive for bird flu, Vietnam's first reported human case in more than 10 months.

Bird flu has killed 52 people in Vietnam, including five last year, since it began raging through Asian poultry stocks in late 2003.

The H5N1 strain has killed at least 254 people worldwide since 2003, most through contact with sick birds. Scientists are monitoring the virus because of its potential to mutate into a new human influenza virus, which could infect millions.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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