Indonesia probes possible bird flu cluster in family

(Sep. 26, 2006) JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia is investigating a possible cluster of bird flu cases after a man died and his brother and sister were hospitalized, one of them testing positive for bird flu, a doctor said on Tuesday.

The man, 25, died on Sunday with bird flu symptoms after being treated at a Christian hospital in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, said Hadi Yusuf, head of the bird flu ward at the city's Hasan Sadikin hospital.

The dead man's brother, 20, and sister, 15, were being treated in Hasan Sadikin hospital and tests carried out by a government laboratory showed the surviving brother had bird flu, Yusuf said.

It was not clear if samples from the dead brother had been taken for tests when he was treated, the doctor said.

"The condition of the (other) brother is not good. He's on a ventilator," Yusuf told Reuters by telephone.

Results for the girl were expected on Wednesday, he said.

The brothers often bought dead chickens to feed their dog, but the girl had no known history of contact with chickens, the doctor said.

"If it is true that the youngest did not touch chickens at all and she had bird flu, we need to suspect she got it from the brothers," he said.

But he expressed disappointment at the slow flow of funds pledged by international donors to Indonesia for the effort.

Health experts and scientists say it is crucial to control the virus from spreading in poultry to limit the chances of more people contracting the disease. The more it spreads, the greater the risks of the virus mutating into a form that can easily pass between humans.


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