5-year-old boy is Indonesia's 40th bird flu victim
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reference laboratory in Hong Kong
has confirmed the latest death from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, a 5-year-old
boy who died on June 16 in the East Java provincial town of
The boy, who had shown symptoms of fever, coughing and difficulty in
breathing, may have contracted the virus via poultry around his
The latest WHO confirmation has brought the number of
flu cases in Indonesia to 54 with 41 of them resulting in
Avian influenza has reportedly killed more than130 people
around the world since 2003.
Of Indonesia's 1.2 billion chickens, 30
percent live in the backyards of homes in both rural and urban areas and the
virus is endemic in poultry all across Indonesia.
million inhabitants are spread across 17,000 islands over a 5,000 km radius and
monitoring and controlling diseases is complex.
Many Indonesians are
poor and raising poultry provides a living and an essential food source and is
partly to blame for Indonesia's reluctance to cull poultry.
government has repeatedly said that the mass culling of birds is an exercise
which is too costly and impractical.
Instead, the vaccination of
vulnerable poultry has taken place, but this has been both sporadic and
selective and consequently has not been effective in stopping the spread of the
H5N1 avian influenza remains
essentially a disease of animals and is relatively difficult to contract. Almost
all deaths and infections to date have been the result of close contact with
sick or dead birds.
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