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Sumatra Bird Flu Case Spread by Human Contact, Indonesia Says
posted by admin on 26/06/06
Human-to-human transmission is the most likely cause of bird flu last month in seven members of a family living on Indonesia's Sumatra Island, the country's Ministry of Health said.
The cases, six of which were fatal, represent Indonesia's largest reported cluster of infections caused by the lethal H5N1 avian influenza strain, the ministry said in a summary of an investigation. The 7-page document, which was produced in conjunction with the World Health Organization, was obtained by Bloomberg News today.
Indonesia's struggle to arrest the spread of avian flu in poultry and prevent human infection is attracting international attention. The virus has killed a person every six days in the nation this year and the cluster on Sumatra provides the first evidence of a three-person chain of infection.
``All of us, including the government of Indonesia, are concerned that human cases are still occurring and that virus is still present in many flocks around the country,'' Keiji Fukuda, the coordinator of the WHO's global influenza program, said in an interview on June 21 in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Human H5N1 cases provide opportunity for the virus to mutate into a pandemic form that may kill millions of people.
At least 130 of the 228 people known to be infected with bird flu since 2003 have died, according to the Geneva-based WHO. World health officials are tracking the spread of the virus in the event it evolves to become easily transmissible among people, sparking a flu pandemic.
Genetic sequence analyses showed there was no evidence of genetic re-assortment in virus samples taken from the Sumatran patients, the summary said.
``All H5N1 viruses were anti-genetically and genetically very closely related and similar to H5N1 viruses isolated from poultry and humans in Indonesia,'' it said.
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