2 Indonesian cases push global H5N1 death toll over 250

Jan 21, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia has confirmed two more fatalities from H5N1 avian influenza, a 29-year-old woman and a 5- or 6-year-old girl, both of whom lived near the country's capital, Jakarta, according to news reports.

An Indonesian Ministry of Health statement today said the woman developed flu-like symptoms after visiting a market Dec 11 and died in the hospital Dec 16, according to the Associated Press (AP). She was from Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Today's AP story also said that a 6-year-old girl (reported as age 5 by Agence France-Presse) from Bekasi, West Java, got sick after buying a chicken at a live market with her parents in December and died Jan 2 after a week's hospitalization.

The ministry reported that laboratory testing confirmed both patients as having the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu.

If both cases are confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Indonesia, already the world's hardest-hit country, will have recorded 141 H5N1 cases and 115 deaths. The worldwide figure would be 399 confirmed cases and 251 deaths.

Indonesia's last H5N1 cases were confirmed Dec 9. To protest a perceived lack of access to avian flu vaccines and treatments that result from isolates it supplied, Indonesia stopped sharing H5N1 samples with the WHO in late 2006 and has provided only a few since then.

The government said last June that it would no longer promptly report H5N1 cases and would give only periodic updates, making up-to-date figures more difficult to pin down.

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