WHO confirms avian flu cluster in Indonesia

18-05-2006 | |

Five cases of H5N1 avian influenza in an Indonesian family in Sumatra have been confirmed by World Health Organisation officials.

The cases were confirmed by a WHO-accredited laboratory in Hong Kong.

Two extra medical epodemiologists have today joined the WHO team investigating the case.

The North Sumatra case cluster, which sparked concern about the possibility of a mutated strain of the virus transmittable between humans, was first reported by several days ago. In today’s reports, officials said the situation was still unclear and investigation was continuing.

WHO officials said four of the five infected family members in North Sumatra have died, while the fifth person was recovering.

WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng in Geneva said it was “too early to draw any conclusions” about whether the virus has acquired the ability to spread among humans. “I have not heard any suggestion that the virus is any different,” she said.

However, Hong Kong virologist Guan Yi said it was unusual that there had been such a time lag between the onset of symptoms in the victims.

Unofficially, Indonesia’s case total sits at 39, with a death toll of 30.