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Published:February 4th, 2008 06:05 EST
Avian Flu kills 5 in Indonesia

Avian Flu kills 5 in Indonesia

By SOP newswire

Five Indonesians living in the west of Java, the most populous island in the Asian archipelago, have become the latest human fatalities from avian influenza, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed.

Indonesian health officials say the five people – two men, two women and a nine-year-old boy – have all succumbed in the past eight days since contracting the H5N1 virus, responsible for outbreaks of bird flu around the world in recent years.

So far, 102 of the 124 confirmed bird flu cases in Indonesia have been fatal, according to a statement issued by WHO. The South-East Asian nation is one of a handful of countries where the virus is enzootic, which means it is continuously present and being passed among poultry.

There have been 357 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 225 deaths worldwide since the H5N1 outbreak began in 2003, with Indonesia, Viet Nam, Egypt, China and Thailand reporting the greatest number of cases.

The most recent death occurred yesterday, when a 31-year-old woman from East Jakarta died, nine days after being hospitalized. The woman is believed to have visited a wet market where live poultry are sold three days before she started experiencing bird flu symptoms.

In the other cases, a 32-year-old man from Banten province on Java's western tip died on Tuesday, a 23-year-old woman from East Jakarta died on Sunday, the same day as a nine-year-old boy from West Java, and a 30-year-old man from Banten province also died on 24 January.