Thursday, December 22, 2005

News - Two die of bird flu in Indonesia

The human death toll from bird flu in Indonesia rose to 11 after the World Health Organization's labs confirmed two more persons died from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, a health official confirmed Thursday.

Ilham Patu, spokesman at Jakarta's Sulianto Saroso hospital designated to treat bird flu patients, said the confirmation from the WHO's affiliated labs in Hong Kong had been received.

"It's confirmed. We have received the confirmation this morning," Patu told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"We have now 16 confirmed (bird flu) cases and 11 deaths, while five others have survived," he added.

Local tests had already shown that a 39-year-old man and an eight-year-boy had died from the avian influenza virus.

The man, living in a South Jakarta suburb, died on December 13, one day after being admitted to Sulianto Saroso hospital, while the boy died two days later at a private Jakarta hospital.

The H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus is known to have killed more than 70 people in five Asian countries - Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia.

At present, almost all of the human fatalities contracted the H5N1 bird flu virus from poultry. But experts worry it could mutate into a more deadly virus that could spread from human to human, and potentially kill millions of people around the world.

The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has spread to more than two-thirds of the provinces in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, with more than 17,000 islands, killing millions of poultry since late 2003.

Bangkok Post - Breaking News

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