The World Health Organization confirmed six more human cases of bird flu infections in Indonesia yesterday, including five members of a family whose case has triggered fears of human-to-human transmission.
"There are six confirmations. One from Surabaya and five from Medan. One from Medan is still alive," said Sari Setiogi, the WHO's Indonesia spokeswoman.
Separately, Indonesia's health ministry said a 12-year-old boy died of bird flu four days ago in Jakarta's eastern suburb of Bekasi, according to local tests. Blood samples have been sent to a WHO-affiliated laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmation, ministry spokeswoman Lily Sulistyowati said. Local tests are not considered definitive.
An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu involving about seven members of a family at Medan in North Sumatra Province has worried health agencies around the world but a Health Ministry official said yesterday it was not a case of human-to-human transmission.
"The spread was through risk factors from poultry or other animals. There is no proof of human to human," said Nyoman Kandun, director-general of disease control.
"The world is watching us. We are not being hasty," he added.
Four of the five family members have died. An eighth member of the family previously reported by the WHO to be part of the cluster of infections merely had a fever and is now not believed to have had bird flu.
The WHO has sent a team to the area near Medan. The agency said it was on alert for signs the virus is mutating into one that can be easily transmitted between people, a development that could signal the start of a pandemic in which millions could die.
The latest deaths bring the number of Indonesians who have died from bird flu to 30, by far the highest death rate in the world this year from the disease.
Source: China Daily