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Another H5N1 Bird Flu Fatality in Bekasi Indonesia

Recombinomics Commentary

August 7, 2006

A 16-year-old Indonesian boy died from bird flu on Monday, officials said citing local test results. If confirmed, the death would bring the country's tally to 43, the highest in the world.

Normally reliable tests performed at a local laboratory showed that the boy who died late Monday had the H5N1 virus, said Dr. Santoso Suroso, the director of the capital's infectious diseases hospital.

A 16-year-old Indonesian boy was tested positive for bird flu and was in a deteriorating condition, health officials said Monday.

The boy, whose name was not released, was admitted to hospital on Saturday.

He was reported to have had contact with sick chickens at his home, just east of Jakarta, health officials said.

The above report describes yet another H5N1 bird flu fatality in Bekasi, Indonesia.  Bekasi has been the site of a disproportionate number of human fatalities in Indonesia.  Released human H5N1 sequences show that the sequences in Bekasi are easily distinguished from reported avian sequences.  Moreover, the more recent human sequences from Java, including those from Bekasi have evolved even further from the avian H5N1.

The failure to match the avian sequences is cause for concern.  Although media and WHO reports cite contact with infected birds, the true source of the infections remain unclear,  Avian sequences from 2003-2005 isolates are quite distinct from the majority of human sequences.  The largest differences are with the most recent isolates from the Jakarta area.

91 recent avian samples have been sent to Australia for H5N1 isolation and sequencing.  If the recent avian sequences do not match the human sequences, then it is likely that the source of the human H5N1 infections is not domestic poultry.

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