Indonesia confirms 64th bird flu death

I just saw this story on the ABC news web-site. Bird flu could well be a huge killer – recently about 60% of those infected have died (up from 50% a year or so ago) and it may well be true that we don’t really have a good grip on the potential threat the virus poses to humans.

 The story on the ABC web-site is as follows:

A 20-year-old woman from West Java who tested positive for bird flu died on Sunday, a health official said.

Her death takes Indonesia’s overall toll to 64 fatalities, the highest of any nation in the world.

I Nyoman Kandun, director general of communicable disease control at the health ministry, told Reuters that the woman, Elis, had been confirmed to have the H5N1 bird flu virus.

“…the result is from two labs,” he said.

The woman had been taken to a hospital in Garut in West Java on Friday after showing bird flu-like symptoms.

Muhammad Nadirin of the health ministry’s bird flu centre told Reuters the woman was reported to have had contact with a dead chicken but this was still being investigated.

Most human cases of the bird flu virus, which has killed at least 167 people worldwide since 2003, have involved contact with infected fowl.

After something of a lull last year, concern has grown since the virus flared again in Asia in recent months, spreading through poultry flocks in South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.

And Indonesia, where many people keep chickens in their yards, has reported a number of new human cases.

The virus is endemic in poultry in many provinces in the country of 17,000 islands, where limited health care facilities and poor communications and transportation infrastructure add to the problems of dealing with the virus.

Indonesia’s government has come under fire in recent days for stopping the sharing of samples of the highly pathogenic HN51 strain of the virus.

Jakarta argues the prevailing system allows drug firms to use these samples to make vaccines developing countries often cannot afford.



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