Bird Flu Claims Another Human Victim

Chickens are seen in a private quarantined poultry farm in Charsadda, near the provincial capital of Peshawar, Monday, Feb. 27, 2006 in Pakistan. Chickens at two farms tested positive for the H5 strain of bird flu in northwestern Pakistan, but authorities doubted the outbreak was caused by the deadly H5N1 strain, an official said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair) AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair

The human death toll from bird flu rose to at least 113 Friday, as senior health officials from the Group of Eight and international agencies convened in Moscow to discuss ways of improving medical treatment and combating the spread of infectious diseases.

The meeting comes ahead of the G-8 summit, which Russia will host in July, and which will also focus on energy security and education.

"Infectious diseases continue to be one of the most acute problems in health care," said Russian Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov.

He proposed developing a global information and analysis system to monitor infectious diseases, as well as setting up an international bank of anti-viral drugs. He also urged the international community to increase efforts to stem the spread of HIV and AIDS, and to create a global system for monitoring flu outbreaks in connection with bird flu.

Indonesia reported its 25th death from the H5N1 strain of bird flu on Friday and China said an 8-year-old girl had contracted the disease.

Vietnam's agricultural minister, meanwhile, said his country would need an additional US$400 million to help fight the virus and prepare for a potential pandemic.

The 30-year-old Indonesian man who died this week had contact with infected chickens in Tangerang, a city 25 miles west of the capital Jakarta, said Health Ministry official Hariadi Wibisono.

Local tests indicated he had bird flu, Wibisono said, but the results still need to be confirmed by a World Health Organization-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong.

That could take three to seven days.

Indonesia's human toll from H5N1 is currently at 24, according to WHO, the second highest in the world after Vietnam.

The sprawling archipelago is logging cases faster than any other country, leading some international health experts to say it could do more to battle the virus.

The government, saying it lacks the money for mass bird slaughtering in infected areas, is relying mostly on vaccinating birds and carrying out limited culls in places where people have died.

  • James Klatell

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