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Alert: Bird Flu Appears to Be Spreading Among Humans in Indonesia

Seven people from the same village in Karo district, northern Sumatra, Indonesia, are in hospital with suspected bird flu H5N1 infection, say local authorities. This is the same general area where seven family members came down with bird flu and died a couple of months ago.

Authorities in Indonesia say they are waiting for confirmation after samples were sent to a laboratory. If tests come back positive it could be proof of another cluster of human bird flu infections in the country. Two infected girls are sisters, while another three infected patients belong to the same family. Another two infected patients are neighbours of the three infected family members.

Local veterinarians have found infected chickens in the area where the patients live.

At the end of July Indonesia recorded its 42nd human death from bird flu, equalling Vietnam. However, Vietnam has not seen a human death for over a year.

Vietnam has received international praise for its efforts to control the spread of bird flu while Indonesia has been criticised. The World Health Organization says that the culling of birds in infected areas is crucial if we want to stem the spread of the disease. Indonesia has been reluctant to do this.

A recent study in the USA suggests that a mutated bird flu virus might not be as dangerous as we fear. It is possible a mutated virus might be less contagious and less virulent than previously thought. However, this study just looked at one of many possible variables.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today