The Ministry of Health of Indonesia has announced a new case of human infection of H5N1 avian influenza. A 5-year-old female from Wonogiri district, Central Java Province developed symptoms on 8 May, was hospitalized on 15 May and died in hospital on 17 May.
Initial investigations into the source of her infection indicate exposure to dead poultry.
Of the 97 cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 77 have been fatal.
Since 2004, some 270 humans have been infected with bird flu in 10 countries, with about 167 fatalities, mostly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization.
With the flu spreading around the world, the virus has turned up in birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. So far, bird flu has mostly been passed from birds either to other birds or, in isolated cases, to humans. In June 2006, WHO reported the first case of human transference of the disease, when an Indonesian man died after catching the flu from his 10-year-old son. If the flu mutates into a strain that can pass more readily from human to human, people will have no immunity and the flu will probably pass rapidly from person to person, creating a pandemic. Flu vaccines can only be made to protect against a particular virus, and, since the virus had yet to be passed from human to human, no vaccine has been developed.
In Asia, many people live with ducks and chickens in their homes and in their yards. Health and veterinary officials worldwide announced that a key way to stop the spread of the disease is to improve farming practices, segregating poultry from humans, and culling birds that have been infected with the deadly virus.