Preliminary tests have found that bird flu killed two more siblings in Indonesia, officials said Friday, as the country grapples with a separate outbreak involving the largest family cluster ever reported.
Local tests found that a brother and sister from West Java who died earlier this week were infected by the H5N1 virus, said Nyoman Kandun, head of the Health Ministry’s office of communicable disease control. The tests will be sent to a World Health Organization laboratory for further confirmation.
WHO officials so far have confirmed 33 human deaths from bird flu in Indonesia, out of 124 worldwide.
The newest cases come as Indonesia is struggling with a different family cluster in northern Sumatra in which six of seven family members died of bird flu, the most recent on Monday. An eighth family member who died was buried before tests could be done, but she was also considered to be among those infected with bird flu.
Experts fear the H5N1 bird flu virus will mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, possibly sparking a pandemic. So far, the virus remains hard for people to catch, with most human cases linked to contact with infected birds.