May 14, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia's health ministry reported today that a 26-year-old pregnant woman who died 2 days ago tested positive for H5N1 avian flu, making her the country's second fatality in as many weeks.
The woman, who was 4 months pregnant, died at a hospital in Medan in North Sumatra, a health ministry official identified as Joko told Agence France Presse (AFP).
Her death brings Indonesia's fatality count to 76, Joko told AFP. From Indonesia's recent reports, the total number of H5N1 cases appears to be 96, including the 26-year-old woman and a 29-year-old woman who died May 3, also at a hospital in Medan.
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 at the end of 2006. The WHO lists 81 cases with 63 deaths for Indonesia, out of a global total of 291 cases with 172 deaths; Indonesia leads the world in the number of deaths.
The health ministry confirmed the woman's case after a second set of tests came back positive for the H5N1 virus, AFP reported.
The patient, who was thought to have eaten chickens that died of avian flu, became ill on May 2 and was treated at home before she was transferred to two different hospitals, the AFP report said.
Twenty other patients are undergoing treatment for suspected H5N1 infections at various hospitals in Indonesia, Joko told AFP.
In other avian flu news, animal-health officials in Bangladesh yesterday reported more H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, this time in a village near Nilphamari, about 250 miles northwest of Dhaka, the capital, Reuters reported today. The fresh outbreaks at small farms prompted villagers to cull about 15,000 chickens over the last few days, the report said.
M. M. Kahn, a technical adviser to the Bangladesh Poultry Association, told AFP 2 days ago that the avian flu situation in poultry was "very grave" because some farmers were not reporting outbreaks or were trying to cover them up.
"The flu is no longer confined to farms. Recently it infected domestic birds and fowls and there's a real danger it could infect humans" in the heavily populated country, Khan told AFP.
Government spokesman Abdul Motalib said the situation was not yet grave, but he acknowledged the nation was having trouble combating the outbreaks because of limited resources and staffing, the AFP report said.
Bangladesh reported its first H5N1 outbreak in poultry in late March. Since then, Motalib said, H5N1 has hit 40 farms in 11 districts and has led to the culling of 151,000 birds, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, officials across the border in India said today that dead poultry and ducks in two Indian states have tested negative for avian flu, Reuters reported. One of the farms that reported poultry deaths was in the eastern state of West Bengal in the village of Matigara, which borders Bangladesh.
Upma Chawdhry, an official with India's animal husbandry department, told Reuters that countrywide monitoring was continuing, with a focus on areas bordering countries that have reported poultry outbreaks.
In Vietnam, a veterinary official from Nghe An, the central province where H5N1 virus resurfaced in poultry in early May, reported a new flu outbreak yesterday, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. About 1,900 ducks from three households were found dead on May 9, an animal-health official who requested anonymity told Xinhua. Samples from the dead birds tested positive for an H5 virus, the source said.
Vietnam experienced a rash of outbreaks in December and January in several Mekong Delta and central provinces, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Vietnam has had 93 human H5N1 cases and 42 deaths, but no human cases have been reported since November 2005, according to the World Health Organization.
OIE reports on 2007 Vietnamese poultry outbreaks