Thursday, May 31, 2007

Indonesia Announces 78th Death From H5N1 Virus

The latest confirmed Indonesian victim of the H5n1 virus is a 45 year old man, one of the oldest persons to have died from the virus so far. The vast majority of the more than 180 deaths around the world have claimed the lives of people younger than 30, with dozens of victims being less than eight years old :
A 45-year-old man has died from bird flu in Indonesia, taking the death toll in the nation worst hit by the virus to 78, a health ministry official said Thursday.

The man died on Monday at the general hospital in the city of Solo on the country’s main island of Java, said Wibisono from the ministry’s bird flu information centre.

The victim had fallen ill after the chickens he was raising at his home in a town in Central Java had also become sick and started dying, said Wibisono. Contact with infected birds is the most common form of transmission of the deadly virus to humans, experts say.

“The man, from Grobogan, has a history of contact with infected fowl,” Wibisono said. “His death now brings the number of confirmed human bird flu infection cases to 98, with 78 of them fatal,” he said.

The death also follows Indonesia’s decision this month to resume sending virus samples to a WHO laboratory in Tokyo, ending a five-month freeze. Indonesia halted the sharing of samples last December because of fears that multinational drug companies would use them to develop costly vaccines that would be unaffordable for those in poorer countries. Indonesia agreed at the WHO’s annual assembly in Geneva to resume sending samples, but stressed that the global flu surveillance system needed to be changed to ensure developing countries got a fair deal.

Sample sharing is regarded as an essential component for research on new vaccines.

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