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Ciptapangan Visitor
Indonesian Bird-Flu Deaths Hit 37
posted by admin on 05/06/06

WHO confirmed a youth’s death last week caused by bird flu. 

The World Health Organization confirmed Sunday that a 15-year-old Indonesian youth who died last week was inflected with bird flu, a senior health official said. 

The boy's death on May 30 in the Tasikmalaya district of West Java province has previously been reported as caused by bird flu, based on Indonesian tests. Samples sent to a WHO-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong came back positive for the H5N1 virus, health ministry official Nyoman Kandun said. 

But local tests came back negative for an Indonesian nurse who fell ill after treating two siblings infected with bird flu. "Thank God, the result came back negative," Hariadi Wibisono, a senior Health Ministry official said. He said specimens would be sent to a World Health Organization-approved laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmation. 

The 25-year-old nurse was isolated and given the antiviral drug Tamiflu when she developed a fever and other flu-like symptoms. She fell ill about 10 days after treating a 10-year-old girl and her 18-year-old brother from West Java province, who died hours apart last month of bird flu. She is improving and will likely be released this week after finishing the full course of Tamiflu, said Dr. Hadi Jusuf of Hasan Sadikin Hospital, where the nurse is being treated. 

The nurse's case initially raised concerns that the H5N1 virus may have passed to her from the siblings, but Mr. Wibisono said it now appears that she was instead suffering from a seasonal flu. 

There have been 37 WHO-confirmed human bird flu deaths in Indonesia, with an average of one every 2.5 days last month. 

On Friday, health officials said local tests found a 7-year-old girl from the outskirts of Jakarta had died from the virus. Specimens have been sent to the WHO laboratory for confirmation. The girl's 10-year-old brother died three days earlier with similar 
symptoms, but no samples were taken before he was buried. 

Last month, six members of a family also died of bird flu and a seventh fell ill in the largest family cluster reported since the virus began ripping through Asian poultry stocks in late 2003. An eighth member of the family in the farming village of Kubu Simbelang in North Sumatra province was buried before samples were collected, but WHO considers her part of the cluster of cases. 

Experts have not found any link between the relatives and infected birds, which has led them to suspect human-to-human transmission. But no one outside the group of blood relatives has fallen ill and experts say the virus has not mutated. 

Bird flu has killed at least 127 people worldwide since late 2003. It is difficult for humans to catch, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form more easily transmissible between humans, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds. Indonesia trails only Vietnam, where 42 people have died, in the number of bird flu deaths. 

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press

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