Two more Indonesians have bird flu, new Pakistan caseBy Achmad Sukarsono
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Two more Indonesians were confirmed to have bird flu on Tuesday and Pakistan reported its first case in a year after finding the deadly virus in a small flock of chickens near the capital Islamabad.
Concern has grown since the H5N1 virus flared again in Asia in recent months, spreading through poultry flocks in South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.
On Monday, Britain killed 160,000 turkeys following the discovery of bird flu on a turkey farm in eastern England. South Korea and Hong Kong on Tuesday joined Japan and Russia in banning British poultry.
In Indonesia, which has the highest human bird flu death toll, the latest human case was a girl from an upscale Jakarta neighbourhood who had caught a wild bird which died two days later, Joko Suyono of the health ministry's bird flu centre said.
The other was a West Java man who lived in an area where many poultry had died.
Indonesia, where many people keep chickens in their backyards, has had 63 human deaths from the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus, six of them this year.
The government has stepped up efforts to stamp out the virus which is endemic in poultry in most of the provinces in the country of 17,000 islands where most bird flu victims have caught the disease from contact with infected fowl.
In Pakistan, Mohammad Afzal, Livestock Commissioner at the Ministry of Agriculture, said all the chickens in the flock of about 40 birds at a house in Rawalpindi, a city adjoining Islamabad, had died or been culled as a result of H5N1.
"It has been contained and there is no danger of the spread of this virus because there are no poultry farms near this house," he told Reuters.
Pakistan's first reported cases of H5N1 bird flu were found in chickens in February last year in North West Frontier Province. In all, about 40,000 chickens were culled. There have been no human cases in Pakistan.
The two new Indonesian cases came as Jakarta said it had stopped sharing human genetic samples of the most deadly strain of bird flu with foreign laboratories because it wanted to keep control of the intellectual property rights of the H5N1 strain.
"We can't share samples for free. There should be rules of the game for it," said the health ministry's spokeswoman, Lily Sulistyowati.
"Just imagine they could research, use and patent the Indonesia strain. We can't give the samples but we can share data in the gene bank."
Sulistyowati said Indonesia would sign a Memorandum of Understanding with U.S. medical products maker Baxter International on Wednesday to collaborate on making a human bird flu vaccine.
"The vaccine is to prevent poultry-to-human infection. That's what we need for the current situation and not for the future pandemic," she said.
Baxter confirmed it expected to conclude a "framework for future collaboration" with Indonesia this week, but said it would still abide by World Health Organisation rules on sharing virus samples, the Financial Times newspaper said.
No comment was immediately available from Baxter.
(Additional reporting by Mita Valina Liem in JAKARTA, Kang Shinye in Seoul and Nao Nakanishi in HONG KONG)