Woman's illness raises Indonesia's H5N1 total to 117

Jan 11, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia's health ministry announced that a 16-year-old girl from West Java province is hospitalized with H5N1 avian influenza, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. This development follows new media revelations about details relating to recently confirmed H5N1 patients in China and Pakistan.

The Indonesian girl got sick on Dec 30 and was hospitalized 5 days later, the WHO report said. The girl, who lives in the city of Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, was recently transferred to a bird flu specialty hospital, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today.

Joko Suyono, an official from Indonesia's health ministry, told Xinhua that two tests confirmed that the girl was infected with the H5N1 virus. The girl's illness raises Indonesia's H5N1 case count to 117, while the number of fatalities stands at 94.

An investigation into the girl's illness found that chickens in her neighborhood died 2 weeks before she became ill, the WHO reported. Suyono told Xinhua that the girl ate three chicken eggs 2 weeks ago after chickens at her household died.

In other developments, Chinese officials said this week that a 52-year-old man who is recovering from an H5N1 infection for which he was hospitalized in early December likely caught the virus from his 24-year-old son, who died of the disease in late November, Reuters reported yesterday.

"The initial judgment is that it was an infection from close contact," Mao Qun'an, Chinese health ministry spokesman, told reporters at a news conference, according to the Reuters report.

The son and his father are from Nanjing, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. Their illnesses are recorded as the WHO's 26th and 27th confirmed H5N1 cases, and the son's death is China's 17th fatality from the disease.

Hans Troedsson, a WHO representative in China, told Reuters that human-to-human transmission through close contact between the son and the father could be not ruled out in the family cluster. "However, the biological findings at this state show that the virus has not mutated to a form that can be transmitted from human to human efficiently," he said.

Qun'an said China's health ministry has still not determined the source of the son's infection, because neither man reportedly had any contact with sick or dead birds, Reuters reported.

Elsewhere, the American brother of Pakistan's first H5N1 case-patient has been confirmed to not have the disease. Blood tests performed by New York State Department of Health Department revealed no antibodies to the H5N1 virus, the Canadian Press (CP) reported on Jan 9.

Claudia Hutton, public affairs director for the New York State Department of Health, told the CP that the man's negative antibody test result suggests that the man was never infected with H5N1.

The man had traveled to Pakistan to attend the funeral of one of his brothers who is thought to be part of an H5N1 family cluster. According to earlier reports from the WHO, health officials had difficulty obtaining viable samples for testing, and though samples from only one brother have tested positive for the H5N1 virus so far, the WHO has said it believes the Pakistani case cluster represents a rare instance of apparent human-to-human transmission.

After the brother, who lives in Long Island, NY, returned from his brother's funeral in Pakistan, he told his physician that he may have been exposed to avian flu, according to previous media reports. However, samples from the man and his son—who also reportedly experienced flulike symptoms—tested negative in state and federal laboratories.

Antibody testing on samples from the man's son also came back negative, the CP report said.

See also:

Jan 11 WHO statement

Dec 7, 2007, CIDRAP News story "Father of Chinese H5N1 fatality has infection"

Dec 17, 2007, CIDRAP News story "Possible H5N1 family cluster probed in Pakistan"

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