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Indonesia girl tests positive for bird flu--official
posted by admin on 24/08/06

JAKARTA, Aug 22 (Reuters)

 A 6-year-old Indonesian girl tested positive for bird flu on Tuesday, a government official said, as the World Health Organisation ruled out human transmission in a village with a series of confirmed and suspected bird flu cases.

The girl from Bekasi, an eastern suburb of Jakarta, is the 60th case of avian influenza in Indonesia, 46 of which have been fatal.

"The girl is still alive and receiving treatment in hospital. She is getting better," I Nyoman Kandun, director general of communicable disease control, told reporters.

Indonesia has seen a steady rise in human bird flu deaths this year and the virus is endemic in poultry in nearly all of the provinces of the sprawling archipelago.

Fears of a possible new cluster arose after a 35-year-old woman from the West Javan village of Cikelet who died was confirmed to have been infected by bird flu.

Her 9-year-old daughter died a week before after showing signs of bird flu, although no samples were taken for testing.

They are among 18 people in the area being investigated for suspected bird flu.

"Though some of these 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 WHO said in a statement.

Kandun said the Health Ministry had distributed more than 13,000 tablets of the anti-viral Tamiflu in the area.

Bird flu remains essentially an animal disease, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that can pass easily among humans.

Indonesia, which has been criticised for not doing enough to stamp out H5N1, has so far refused to do mass culling of poultry, citing the expense and the logistical difficulties because of millions of backyard fowl.

Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of the National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Preparedness, said the government would launch a national multimedia campaign starting on Sept. 1 to spread awareness in areas where the virus has been spreading.

"Every village, district or region that has had bird flu cases in poultry is at risk of becoming an endemic area like in Cikelet," he said, adding that 25 million fowl had been culled since 2004.

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