Indonesia reports 75th avian flu death

May 7, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia reported today that a 29-year-old woman who died 4 days ago had H5N1 avian influenza, according to news services, signaling the first confirmed case anywhere in nearly a month.

The woman was admitted to a hospital in Medan in northern Sumatra May 1 and died May 3, according to an Agence France-Press (AFP) report quoting an official named Suhardaningrum of the national avian flu information center.

Her death raises Indonesia's H5N1 death toll to 75, according to AFP. The total case count at the time of Indonesia's last case, in early April, was listed as 94.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not included any Indonesian cases in its H5N1 count since the country stopped sharing H5N1 virus samples with the agency in late January. The WHO lists 81 cases with 63 deaths for Indonesia, out of a global total of 291 cases with 172 deaths.

Two series of tests confirmed that the Sumatran woman was infected with H5N1, Suhardaningrum told AFP. Other officials said she had had no known contact with sick poultry and it was unclear how she contracted the disease, AFP reported.

Reuters reported that the woman was from Pekanbaru in Sumatra's Riau province. She had been suffering from fever and respiratory problems, a health ministry official said.

Before today, the latest human H5N1 case was that of a 15-year-old Egyptian girl, reported Apr 8. She died Apr 10. Indonesia had reported a case in a 29-year-old man on Apr 7.

Indonesia stopped sending H5N1 virus samples to the WHO at the end of 2006 out of opposition to the WHO practice of sharing the samples with drug companies, which, in Indonesia's view, use the samples to make vaccines priced beyond the country's reach.

In late March, Indonesia said it would resume sharing samples in return for a WHO promise to develop new guidelines for sample sharing and, in the interim, to refrain from supplying Indonesian samples to drug companies without the country's permission.

But the country had not provided any more viruses as of last week. Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said May 2 that no samples would be sent until the country had a written guarantee that they would not be turned over to vaccine makers without Indonesia's consent.

H5N1 samples are used to monitor the virus's evolution, spread, and resistance to antiviral drugs, as well as to make vaccines.

See also:

WHO avian influenza situation updates

Apr 9 CIDRAP News story "Indonesia, Egypt report H5N1 cases"

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