- Five more people have died from bird
flu in Indonesia, the World Health Organization has confirmed.
- The deaths of the five brings Indonesia's
bird flu death toll to 30.
- Four of the people who died lived in
northern Sumatra and were from the same family. The WHO has sent a team
to the area to investigate.
- An Indonesian health ministry official
told Reuters news agency there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission
in the latest cases of the H5N1 virus.
- In the cluster of cases in northern Sumatra,
up to eight members of a family in Kubu Simbelang village, about 50km (30
miles) south of Medan, could be involved.
- Tests are still being carried out to
see whether sick relatives also have bird flu.
- Scientists are investigating the cause
of the outbreak.
- "The spread was through risk factors
from poultry or other animals. There is no proof of human-to-human,"
a health ministry official, Nyoman Kandun, told Reuters.
- But the agency also quoted an Indonesian
agriculture official who said that could still not be ruled out.
- "There is a big question mark. Blood
samples from all kinds of animals from chickens, ducks, geese, birds, pigs,
cats and dogs turned out negative so far. Manure has also been checked.
The result is negative," he said.
- The outbreak is worrying for officials
because it occurred on the island of Sumatra, whereas most cases so far
have been recorded in Java.
- Worst death rate
- The fifth death confirmed on Wednesday
occurred in Surabaya in Java. The victim was a 38-year-old caterer whose
job involved dealing with livestock and meat. She died last week.
- The latest deaths mean 30 people have
died from the disease in Indonesia this year - by far the highest death
rate in the world.
- Indonesia is second only to Vietnam in
the list of countries with most bird flu deaths.
- However, while Vietnam and third-placed
Thailand have managed to slow the spread of the disease and the death toll
through tough controls, Indonesia has been criticised for a tardy response.
- A senior official at the UN's Food and
Agricultural Organization said earlier this week that Indonesia's government
had failed to co-ordinate its reaction and raise public awareness.
- Direct contact
- The H5N1 virus has killed 115 people
worldwide since 2003. It has also devastated poultry stocks.
- The majority of deaths have occurred
in Asia, but cases in people and birds have also been recorded in Europe
- Almost all human infections so far are
thought to have been caused by direct contact with sick poultry.
- Experts fear the virus could mutate into
a form that passes easily between humans, possibly sparking a pandemic.