Human to human transmission of the H5N1 Avian Flu may have infected seven Indonesian family members

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement that all seven Indonesian individuals infected with the deadly H5N1 Avian Flu (Bird Flu) virus, six of whom have died, contracted the disease through "close and prolonged exposure to a patient during a phase of severe illness." All victims were part of the same family. A 10-year old boy is believed to have contracted the disease through his aunt and then spread the virus to his father. This is the first report of the virus spreading through a three-person chain.

According to the WHO, experts have not been able to find the birds or animals responsible for spreading the disease.

"Although human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, the search for a possible alternative source of exposure is continuing," said the WHO in a statement on its website.

"All confirmed cases in the cluster can be directly linked to close and prolonged exposure to a patient during a phase of severe illness" and that the 32-year old father was "closely involved in caring for his son, and this contact is considered a possible source of infection," said the WHO in a statement.

However; the WHO also said that that tests performed on samples from the patients, "found no evidence of genetic reassortment with human or pig influenza viruses and no evidence of significant mutations. The viruses showed no mutations associated with resistance to the neuraminidase inhibitors, including oseltamivir (Tamiflu)"

They also stressed that "to date, the investigation has found no evidence of spread within the general community and no evidence that efficient human-to-human transmission has occurred." In January, DNA taken from two Turkish teens confirmed that they died from a mutated strain of the Bird Flu virus.