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June 01, 2006

Indonesia H5N1 Death Toll Reaches 37

While attention has been focused on the tragic damage caused by last week's earthquake and the potential for a volcano eruption, reports of Bird Flu deaths continue to  pour in from  Indonesia.  Indonesia now ranks second only to Vietnam in the number of  deaths caused by the H5N1 virus.  However, while the situation in Vietnam has been quiet, new H5N1 related death reports in Indonesia have been recurring at a steady rate since he beginning of this year.

CIDRAP reports that "the 15-year-old boy, who was from Tasikmalaya, West Java, was admitted to a hospital May 29 and died yesterday, according to a Reuters story today. If his death is confirmed by a WHO laboratory in Hong Kong, his will be the 49th case and 37th death in Indonesia. About two thirds of those cases have occurred this year."

"Government officials said that the teen had contact with infected poultry and that his own chickens died about 2 weeks ago, according to Reuters. In addition, the report said, the boy's grandfather was a chicken farmer who had 40 chickens that died recently."

"The boy represents the third recent H5N1 fatality from West Java province. A 10-year-old girl and her 18-year-old brother died last week in Bandung, which is about 55 miles northwest of Tasikmalaya."

The ratio of reported deaths to reported cases is nearly 50% higher in Indonesia than it has been in prior reported cases around the world.

Today in H5N1Drome, we've reblogged several articles emphasizing how little is still known about this scourge.  At a recent meeting hosted by the FAO  in Rome, specific data on the role of particular migrating bird species in the transmission of the virus was reported for the first time. There is still an ongoing suspicion that many cases of the Avian Flu are going unreported in a number of countries.

In many ways, however, for us the most troubling news is the recurring incidences of H5N1 outbreaks in poultry flocks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many countries in the region have experienced widespread pandemic AIDS for many years.  A large segment of the population already  suffering from immune deficiency could provide the H5N1 virus with an optimum environment for possible mutation to a form that is more easily transmissible from human to human.

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Posted by dymaxion at June 1, 2006 12:20 AM

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