Indonesia reports 4 H5N1 deaths

Mar 3, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – An Indonesian health official said today that four more people have died of H5N1 avian influenza over the past month, as an Indonesian newspaper reported two more deaths possibly due to the disease.

Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of Indonesia's National Bird Flu Commission, gave few details about the four victims . Two were siblings from the city of Bogor in West Java province, and the two others were women from Bekasi, a suburb of Jakarta, and Surabaya in East Java province, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.

If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the cases, the country's count will rise to 145 cases and 119 deaths. For now, the total stands at 141 cases and 115 deaths.

Krisnamurthi said all four of the victims were believed to have had contact with sick poultry. He told Reuters that all four died in February.

Mike Coston, who authors the Avian Flu Diaryblog, provided a round-up today of additional details about the four cases, based on information that he and flu reporters at the FluWiki and FluTrackers blog sites have gleaned over the past several weeks from Indonesian media reports and other online sources.

He wrote that the siblings from Bogor appear to have been a 30-year-old man and his sister who died in mid January. A third sibling reportedly had a high fever, but refused medical treatment. The woman from Surabaya was most likely an 18-year-old who died at Sutomo Hospital in Surabaya in late January, Coston wrote. He added that five healthcare workers there were reportedly quarantined with severe flulike symptoms, but there was little follow-up news other than that two of them tested negative for the H5N1 virus.

Several reports of suspected H5N1 cases have come out of Bekasi over the past 2 months, making it difficult to infer the identity of the Bekasi woman mentioned in Krisnamurthi's total today, Coston wrote.

Indonesia's last H5N1 cases were reported on Jan 22. One was in a 29-year-old woman from Tangerang district in Banten province who died in mid December, and the other was in a 5-year-old girl from Bekasi who got sick in late December and died on Jan 2.

Last June, Indonesia announced that it would no longer provide immediate announcements of individual avian flu deaths, opting instead to give periodic updates.

In other developments, the Indonesian Republika newspaper today reported two more H5N1 deaths, both which occurred over the weekend near Jakarta, Reuters reported. The patients were a 5-year-old girl from Depok and an 8-year-old boy from Bekasi. The National Bird Flu Commission said the children's samples were sent to Jakarta to confirm the cause of death.

Indonesia has had more H5N1 cases and deaths than any other nation. The WHO's current global H5N1 count, which doesn't yet reflect the four Indonesian case-patients, stands at 409 cases, 256 of them fatal.

See also:

Mar 3 Avian Flu Diary blog post

Jan 21 CIDRAP News story "2 Indonesian cases push global H5N1 death toll over 250"

WHO global H5N1 case count

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