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WHO says Bird Flu Cluster in Indonesia not Due to Human to Human Infection

by Daniel on November 2nd, 2011

Relief is bound to be felt in many quarters by the World Health Organization’s statement that the cluster of bird flu cases confirmed in Indonesia recently are unlikely to be the result of human-to-human infection.

Clusters of human infections are a concern because they could indicate the virus is mutating into a form that is easily transmissible among humans.

The WHO has sent a team to the area and says their scientists believe that the H5N1 bird flu virus has not mutated.

Six members from one family in a village in North Sumatra were infected, and five have died as a result.

A seventh family member, a 37-year-old woman, is suspected to have been the first victim in the cluster.

The five were apparently neighbours in Kubu Sembelang in the Karo district and were all relatives of the woman.

To date the source of the cluster of infections is unknown but the most likely reason is probably exposure to infected birds or their faeces.

It is the largest cluster ever reported from any country regarding bird flu and could be the result of a large family gathering on April 29 where there was a shared environmental exposure.

So far, no infections have been identified outside this family cluster among other family members, close friends, neighbours, other villagers, or health care professionals who had been attending the infected patients.

Scientists say that if the virus had mutated more people would have become infected by now.

The total of confirmed human cases in Indonesia now stands at 40, of which 31 have died.

The H5N1 virus has been detected among poultry in almost all of the country’s 33 provinces.

A senior Indonesian health official has promised complete transparency should human-to-human transmission of bird flu occur and says efforts to raise awareness among the public will include a robust campaign on the dangers of bird flu.

From → Health

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