Jordan Reports First Bird Flu Case in Human

Jordanian health officials announced the kingdom's first human case of the bird flu Friday in a 31-year-old worker believed to have contracted the deadly strain in his home village in Egypt.

Health Minister Saeed Darwazeh said the man, whose name was not given, entered the country March 27 at the southern port of Aqaba and became sick while traveling to Karak, 130 miles south of the capital, Amman.

Doctors in Karak tested the man when he sought treatment for flu symptoms. The World Health Organization was running tests to confirm the case, Darwazeh said, "but we deal with the case as positive with the H5N1 virus."

The patient, who is from the Fayoum province southwest of the Egyptian capital, said poultry was being raised for domestic consumption at his home, and many of the birds had died recently.

Indonesia confirmed a new human death from bird flu, bringing the country's human toll from the deadly strain to 23, the Health Ministry said.

The latest victim was a 1-year-old girl who died March 23 at a Jakarta hospital, according to the ministry's command post for bird flu.

Indonesian officials already reported the death as a suspected case of bird flu, and WHO test results confirming the initial diagnosis came back Friday, said Achmad, a command post official who, like many Indonesians, goes by a single name.

The H5N1 strain of the virus has killed or forced the slaughter of more than 200 million birds across Asia since 2003, and has spread to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

At least 105 people have died worldwide from bird flu since a wave of outbreaks of the H5N1 strain swept through Asian poultry populations in late 2003.

The human cases generally are traced to direct contact with sick birds, but medical experts fear the virus could mutate into form that spreads among people, sparking a global pandemic.

Jordan informed Egyptian authorities about the newly discovered case to enable them to investigate whether there were other cases in the sick man's village, al-Gaafra.

Egypt this month announced its first four human cases of bird flu. Two were fatal.

Darwazeh described the sick man's condition as "good" and said he was receiving treatment.

The man has lived in Jordan for the past three years, working in construction and agriculture. He went to Egypt three months ago, returning Monday.

Last Friday, Jordan announced that avian flu had been detected in turkeys raised in a backyard in Kafranjah village on the outskirts of Ajloun, 47 miles north of Amman.

Twenty-two people who came into contact with the birds tested negative for the virus but were given Tamiflu, a drug used to treat humans afflicted with the virus, as a precaution.

Indonesia, which has faced criticism for doing too little to stamp out the virus when it first appeared in poultry stocks, established a national commission this month to prepare for a possible human pandemic.

The government has said it can do little more than vaccinate poultry stocks, arguing the internationally recommended policy of slaughtering all chickens and ducks in affected areas would be too costly.

It occasionally carries out selective slaughters, but those efforts are seen largely as public relations campaigns.

The virus has appeared in birds in 26 of the country's 33 provinces and killed at least 23 people in the last nine months.

The government has vowed to provide health centers across the sprawling archipelago with Tamiflu — one of the few drugs believed effective in treating bird flu.

In Cambodia, officials said Friday that poultry raised by the neighbor of a child who died from bird flu were infected by the deadly H5N1 strain.

Mon Puthy, 3, who died from bird flu last week, might have been infected after playing near the droppings of infected poultry, said Kao Phal, director of the Agriculture Ministry's animal health department.

Azerbaijani health officials said Thursday that two more people had been hospitalized with bird flu in the ex-Soviet nation on the Caspian Sea, where the disease has claimed five lives.

Health Minister Oqtay Shiraliyev said at a news conference that the victims apparently contracted the H5N1 strain while plucking feathers from dead swans.