Sun, Feb 26, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Deadly avian flu claims 20th human victim in Indonesia

AGENCIES , JAKARTA, UCHHAL, INDIA AND PHNOM PENH

Bird flu has killed its 20th human victim in Indonesia, a 27-year-old woman, according to tests by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an Indonesian health ministry official said yesterday.

"We have received the test result from CDC Atlanta. Yulia [the victim] was positive," said Hariadi Wibisono, director-general of control of animal-borne disease at the health ministry.

The 27-year-old woman died last Monday after being admitted to the Sulianti Saroso hospital in Jakarta, which is designated to treat patients showing bird flu symptoms.

A hospital spokesman had said the woman had contact with dead chickens in her neighborhood.

Of Indonesia's confirmed fatalities from the H5N1 virus, nine have been this year, making Indonesia the country with the most bird flu deaths so far in 2006.

Meanwhile, at least two chickens found dead at a poultry farm in India's western Gujarat state were infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, government officials said yesterday, announcing the country's second known outbreak of the disease.

The dead birds were discovered at the National Poultry Farm in the Uchhal area of Gujarat, the region's administrator Vatsala Vasudev said.

Uchhal is a few kilometers across the border from Navapur, a farming region in Maharashtra state where an outbreak of bird flu last week prompted the culling of hundreds of thousands of birds.

Although the passage of traffic through Navapur has been blocked to prevent the spread of the disease, officials were investigating whether some infected chicken might still have passed through to Uchhal.

Vasudev said the National Poultry Farm, as well as another farm in the vicinity, have been closed. And local administrator A.V. Vader said birds are being tested at other poultry farms in the vicinity to assess if the virus has spread.

Officials were meeting to discuss the next steps, including the possibility of culling all birds at the farm and sealing off the area.

The head of Gujarat's department of animal husbandry, D.K. Rao, separately said the bird flu infections had been confirmed by tests in a federal laboratory.

No human cases of H5N1 have been reported in either state.

Elsewhere, Cambodian authorities destroyed 250 ducks after tests on five dead birds showed at least one bird was infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, district animal health authorities said yesterday.

Chief of the animal health department of Kampong Siem district in the northeastern province of Kampong Cham, Nam Tang Botha, said that villagers had reported signs of illness in the duck flock very early and their quick actions had probably prevented an outbreak.

The birds were destroyed on Feb. 11, but news of the positive result for tests for bird flu was only released now. Up to 25 other local flocks remain under observation, he added.

The report coincided with authorities seizing and destroying 330kg of chicken carcasses being illegally transported across the Thai border. They feared the carcasses may have potentially carried bird flu.

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