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Ciptapangan Visitor
Indonesia's bird flu death toll rises to 52
posted by admin on 29/09/06

The government had acknowledged the 20-year-old victim as a bird flu case earlier this week.

JAKARTA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - An Indonesian man who had been suffering from bird flu for days died early on Thursday, a hospital official said, taking Indonesia's death toll from the disease to 52.

"He died because of breathing problems which he had suffered since he was admitted to the hospital," said Hadi Yusuf, who heads the bird flu ward at Hasan Sadikin hospital in Bandung, West Java's provincial capital.

The government had acknowledged the 20-year-old victim as a bird flu case earlier this week.

The man's brother died with bird flu symptoms on Sunday but due to lack of testing there has been no positive confirmation he had the disease.

A third sibling, a 15-year old girl, is currently being treated at Hasan Sadikin hospital.

"She is doing alright, no fever. We are still looking into whether she has the avian influenza virus. The third testing will be conducted today," Yusuf told Reuters by phone.

Two previous tests have found negative trace of bird flu. Relatives of the three siblings are also being tested.

The disease spread into the family when a member brought chickens with the virus to their house.

Indonesia has more bird flu deaths than any other country.

The government has faced criticism for not doing enough to combat the disease, endemic in birds in almost all provinces in the archipelago of 17,000 islands.

Unlike other bird flu-affected nations such as Thailand, culling poultry is not easy in Indonesia because of fierce opposition from farmers and the logistical difficulties in dealing with millions of backyard fowl.

Farmers oppose culling because of low compensation. However, at times residents of areas where someone has died of the disease demand aggressive culling by the government.

More than 1,350 birds have been slaughtered this week near homes of bird flu victims who died earlier this month.

Before the Thursday death, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 147 of the 251 people confirmed infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus worldwide have died since 2003.

The virus mainly affects birds but experts fear it could mutate into a strain capable of killing millions of people in a global pandemic.

This fear heightened in May when seven people in an extended family died of bird flu in Indonesia's North Sumatra province.

The WHO has said limited human-to-human transmission is highly likely to have occurred in the Sumatra cases but that the transmission was not sustainable and occurred only during close, prolonged contact, such as a parent looking after an infected child.

Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said any conclusion on human-to-human spread could not be based on small cases.

"You cannot just declare there is human-to-human (transmission) from a doctor's examination. It may need thousands of cases first," Koran Tempo quoted her as saying.

"Up until now, the spread of bird flu in Indonesia is from fowl to humans," she said.

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