World Health Organization officials said yesterday that they were investigating eight suspected bird flu cases in humans in Sumatra. Indonesian health officials said that four of these cases had been fatal.
A team from the WHO had "checked the village and at this stage we can say they are still suspect at the moment," said Sari Setiogi, WHO spokeswoman in Indonesia. Nyoman Kandun, head of the Health Ministry's office of communicable disease control, added that some samples had been sent to the WHO-accredited Hong Kong lab.
"We have found negative signs of bird flu in all the livestock near where the families live, and now investigators are trying to further check livestock such as chicken, ducks and pigs there," he said, adding that all suspected victims were members of a large family.
Till date Indonesia's toll from H5N1 virus is 25. Most of the victims are from the same family and officials are examining whether the virus has mutated into a form easily transmissible between humans. Experts fear that if this happens there could be millions of casualties worldwide.