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Ciptapangan Visitor
Indonesia man dies of bird flu, cluster case unlikely
posted by admin on 02/10/06

The government said earlier this week the 20-year-old man had bird flu after a series of positive tests for the H5N1 avian flu virus.

By Diyan Jari

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A 20-year-old Indonesian man who health officials thought had been part of a family cluster of bird flu cases died of the disease on Thursday, a hospital official said.

The man's 25-year-old brother died on Sunday after displaying bird flu symptoms but there has been no positive confirmation he had the disease because no samples were taken for testing.

A third sibling, a 15-year old girl, is being treated at Hasan Sadikin hospital. Tests for her have been negative.

"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 said earlier this week the 20-year-old man had bird flu after a series of positive tests for the H5N1 avian flu virus.

Relatives of the three siblings are also being tested.

Health ministry official Runizar Ruesin said bird flu had been ruled out in the girl's case.

"There is no H5N1 virus in her body. She is only suffering from the common flu," he said, adding that no more tests would be carried out on her.

Yusuf said the brothers had contact with chickens and it was highly unlikely that one infected the other.

The source of the disease was infected chickens that had been brought inside the family home.

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

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

The H5N1 virus mainly affects birds but experts fear it could mutate into a strain capable of killing millions of people in a global pandemic.

Indonesia has become one of the frontlines in the battle against the disease. So far, 52 people have died of bird flu, the highest of any country, with the majority of deaths since the beginning of this year.

More deaths are feared because the virus is endemic in poultry across much of the complex archipelago of 17,000 islands that is home to multitudes of different cultures and languages.

The government has also been reluctant to carry out mass culls of infected poultry, citing logistical problems, lack of donor cash and resistance by many farmers to accept limited compensation for culled fowl.

Before the latest death, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 147 people have died of bird flu since 2003.

Dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa have had cases in people and poultry.

Europe is on alert to try to prevent more bird flu outbreaks in coming weeks.

Millions of birds will soon begin their seasonal migration to African wintering grounds, raising fears the Asian H5N1 bird flu strain could return to Europe after it first emerged in China last year.

Migration routes are complex but can take wildfowl from Asia to Russia where they come into contact with others that then fly south across eastern and central Europe to Africa.


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