Pic: AP.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has confirmed its first human death from bird flu in nine months.

To Duc Sinh, director of Preventive Medicine Center in southern Binh Phuoc province, said Tuesday that a 52-year-old man died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu on Jan. 18 on the way to a hospital in southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

Sinh said the man developed a fever and other symptoms on Jan. 11 after he slaughtered a duck bought in the village where chickens died of unknown reasons several days later.

Health workers have disinfected the village, he said.

Vietnam’s last human bird flu death was reported in April last year.

Bird flu remains hard for people to catch, with most people sickened after being in close contact with infected poultry, but experts have long feared it could spark a pandemic if it mutates into a form that spreads easily among people.