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WHO Finds No Evidence Bird Flu Spread Among Humans in Indonesia
posted by admin on 23/08/06

Four other people died in the Cikelet region of West Java

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Investigators found no evidence that bird flu is spreading among humans in a remote part of Indonesia's Java island, where two people died from the virus and a third was sickened, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Four other people died in the Cikelet region of West Java before swab samples were taken to determine the cause, according to local health officials. Test results are pending for five others receiving medical treatment for symptoms of the disease, including a 61-year-old man admitted to hospital early Tuesday.

The WHO said poultry in the poor region, accessible by motorcycle or on horseback, began dying in large numbers in July after villagers purchased chickens from outside the area and incorporated them into local flocks.

"As the population had no experience with this disease, high-risk behaviors commonly occurred during the disposal of carcasses or the preparation of sick or dead birds for consumption," the WHO said in a statement. "Though some of the undiagnosed deaths occurred in family members of confirmed cases, the investigation has found no evidence of human-to-human transmission and no evidence that the virus is spreading more easily from birds to humans," the statement added.

The H5N1 virus has killed at least 141 people world-wide since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003, 46 of them in worst-affected Indonesia, according to the WHO.

Most people have been infected after coming into contact with sick birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially sparking a pandemic.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press

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