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Indonesian teenager dies of bird flu – WHO
posted by admin on 22/06/06
The toll brings the national deaths to 39.
JAKARTA, June 20 (Reuters) - The World Health Organization has confirmed an Indonesian teenager who died last week was infected with bird flu, a health ministry official said on Tuesday, taking the country's confirmed bird flu deaths to 39.
The head of Indonesia's bird flu information centre, Runizar Ruesin, said the 14-year-old boy was from south of Jakarta, but did not give details.
Samples of the boy's lung fluid were sent to a WHO laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmation after he tested positive for bird flu locally. Local tests are not considered definitive.
Indonesia has seen a steady rise in human bird flu infections and deaths since its first known outbreak of H5N1 in poultry in late 2003.
The country of 220 million has an estimated 1.2 billion chickens, some 30 percent of them in the yards of homes in both rural and urban areas.
The bird flu virus is endemic in poultry in nearly all of the 33 provinces in Indonesia, a country of 17,000 islands sprawling across some 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles).
The head of Indonesia's bird flu task force, in the ministry of agriculture, said on Tuesday she hoped Indonesia would be free of the virus in 2008.
"In 2008, Indonesia will be free from bird flu, Insya Allah," said Delima Ashari, speaking on Elshinta news radio.
But he also said: "I realise that the immense size of Indonesia makes it not easy to handle and socialise strategies and change people's behaviour on bird flu handling and how to live healthily with fowl."
Despite climbing deaths, the government has resisted mass culling of birds, citing the expense and impracticality in a country dotted with backyard farms.
Vaccination has been preferred to culling, which has been done only sporadically at selective farms and their immediate surroundings.
Bird flu remains essentially an animal disease but climbing human deaths have put many countries around the world on alert for fear it may mutate into one that could pass easily among people and trigger a pandemic, killing millions.
Indonesia drew international attention last month when the virus killed as many as seven members of a single family in North Sumatra. Experts said there could have been limited human-to-human transmission in this cluster case.
But they stressed genetic analyses of the virus has not shown all of the traits that are known so far to allow it to spread easily among people.
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