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Indonesia tests 7 for bird flu from same village

Seven Indonesians from the same village in North Sumatra have been hospitalized and are being tested for bird flu, an official said, raising fears of new cluster cases in the country.
/ Source: Reuters

Seven Indonesians from the same village in North Sumatra have been hospitalized and are being tested for bird flu, an official said on Wednesday, raising fears of new cluster cases in the country.

The group comes from Karo district in North Sumatra province where bird flu killed as many as seven people in an extended family in May, triggering fears the H5N1 bird flu virus had mutated into a form that could spread easily between people.

“Whether it is a new cluster or not, that must be scientifically proved,” said Runizar Ruesin, head of the bird flu information center at Indonesia’s health ministry.

He said the seven were admitted to the local Kaban Jahe hospital, with three referred to the state-run Adam Malik hospital.

The latter three are children — two siblings aged 10 and six and their 18-month-old neighbor.

“I am still waiting for the result of the tests.”

Another official said chickens in the area where they lived had died and tested positive for bird flu. Sick poultry is the usual mode of transmission of the disease, endemic in birds in about two-thirds of the country’s provinces.