JAKARTA, Indonesia – A 19-year-old woman died of bird flu in Indonesia (search) and an 8-year-old boy from her family was hospitalized with the virus, officials said Saturday.
With concerns about a possible human bird flu pandemic rising around the globe, the World Bank said it was finalizing plans to provide up to $500 million to help poor countries fight the disease.
New cases of the virus in birds were reported in China (search) and Vietnam this week.
The woman, from the town of Tangerang on the outskirts of the Indonesia capital Jakarta, was believed to have contracted the virus from infected dead chickens in her neighborhood, said Hariadi Wibisono, a Ministry of Health official. Her death brings the number of people killed by the disease in Indonesia to five, he said.
Wibisono said a Hong Kong laboratory confirmed both victims had bird flu, but it was not immediately clear how the young boy contracted the disease.
Since late 2003, the virulent and lethal H5N1 (search) strain of bird flu has ravaged poultry stocks and jumped from birds to humans, killing at least 62 people in Southeast Asia. Most of the human deaths have been linked to close contact with infected birds. But experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily passed among humans and possibly spark a worldwide pandemic.
The latest outbreak in China — the fourth in three weeks — killed 8,940 chickens on Oct. 26 in Liaoning province's Badaohao village east of Beijing, the government said Friday.
The outbreak prompted authorities to destroy 369,900 other birds in the area, and came despite efforts to tighten controls on China's 5.2 billion chickens, ducks and other poultry.
Hong Kong immediately banned poultry imports from Liaoning, reflecting growing concern that China is becoming a potential bird flu flashpoint.
No human cases have been reported in China, but authorities warn it is inevitable if the government cannot stop repeated outbreaks in poultry.
In Vietnam — where most of the human deaths have occurred — more than 3,000 poultry died or were culled this week in three villages in Bac Giang province about 35 miles northeast of Hanoi, provincial vice chairman Nguyen Dang Khoa said Friday.
Transporting poultry to or from the three villages was banned, and the towns and those around them have been disinfected and remaining poultry vaccinated, he said.
In one of the villages, Van Trung, about a dozen local officials on Friday went from house to house, beating to death any poultry they found.
"We expect more outbreaks, not just in Bac Giang, but also in other provinces," said Hoang Van Nam, deputy director of the Animal Health Department. "Cooler weather now makes it easier for the virus to spread."
The World Bank is considering a package between $300 million and $500 million which could be used by low-income countries to "supplement government resources, to strengthen the veterinary systems and to put in place culling and vaccine programs for animals," Jim Adams, the World Bank's vice president for operations policy and country services, said Friday.
On Saturday, WHO said farmers in developing countries should be compensated for poultry culled during a bird flu outbreak to encourage them to report unusual chicken deaths.
In the United States, Hawaii became the first state this week to begin voluntary screening of passengers at airports to detect signs of bird flu or other viruses.