Indonesia asks for help fighting bird flu virus

Indonesia's president begged the international community to help fight the bird flu virus that has killed 30 people in his sprawling nation, with five new deaths and one infection confirmed this week alone.

We need "full financial and technical support" if we are going to effectively stamp out the disease, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a gathering of U.N. officials, donors and development partners in the capital Jakarta on Thursday.

Indonesia has the second highest number of human bird flu fatalities in the world, trailing only Vietnam, which has 42, according to the World Health Organization.

The H5N1 virus has been found in poultry populations in two-thirds of the country's 33 provinces, but the government says it cannot afford to carry out mass culls of birds in infected areas, one of the most basic containment guidelines.

Yudhoyono's comments followed an announcement Wednesday that four family members on Sumatra island died this month of bird flu and that another was sickened, one of the largest recorded clusters of H5N1 fatalities.

One person also died in the country's second-largest city on Java island, said WHO spokeswoman Sari Setiogi.

The multiple infections among people living close to each other drew special concern because they could indicate the virus mutated into a form easily passed between humans, possibly sparking a global pandemic, reports the AP.


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Author`s name: Editorial Team