Mon, May 29, 2006 - Page 4 News List

WHO confirms 35th Indonesian bird flu death

AFP , JAKARTA

A health worker vaccinates a chicken in Surabaya last Wednesday. The WHO confirmed the 35th bird flu fatality in Indonesia yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

The WHO confirmed yesterday the 35th bird flu fatality in Indonesia, a 29-year-old man who died 10 days ago in the capital Jakarta.

WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said that tests carried out at a WHO-affiliated laboratory had confirmed local results showing the man had died of the virus.

WHO tests also confirmed that two more Indonesians -- an 18-year-old man from Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, and a 43-year-old Jakarta man -- had contracted bird flu and were recovering in hospital.

More than 120 people have died of bird flu around the world since late 2003, the vast majority of them in Asia.

The Jakarta man was being treated at the Sulianti Saroso hospital in the capital, the country's premier bird flu treatment center.

Last week, fears of possible human-to-human transmission of avian influenza were heightened after it was confirmed that seven members of the same family died in North Sumatra earlier this month from the virus.

WHO experts said there may have been limited human-to-human transmission but insisted the virus had not mutated into a more easily transmissible form.

Thompson said some 30 people quarantined after coming into contact with the stricken family had been asked to remain in isolation for another two weeks.

"They have been visited daily by local health workers. There has been no report of illness," he said.

Indonesia has had more bird flu deaths than any other country this year. It has the world's second highest number of fatalities since 2003, after Vietnam. So far, nine Indonesians who were infected have survived.

On Saturday, a senior health ministry official denied suggestions that authorities in Jakarta had not done enough to curb the spread of the disease.

"Our country consists of myriad islands and there are too many backyard farms. Our system has deficiencies but we are doing the best we can," said I Nyoman Kandun, the director-general for communicable disease control.

He said Indonesia did not have enough funds to compensate farmers for the destruction of poultry.

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