Indonesia stepped up an investigation into a possible cluster of bird flu cases in West Java province yesterday after a young boy was hospitalised with symptoms of the disease, bringing the number of suspected cases to ten.
Laboratory tests have not been completed for the five-year-old boy, who was rushed to Dr Slamet Hospital in Garut yesterday after suffering from a high fever and respiratory problems. His sister passed away two weeks ago before her illness could be determined.
Both came from Cikelet, a West Java hamlet 150 kilometres (90 miles) southeast of Jakarta, where there have been eight other human cases of confirmed or suspected bird flu.
"Our team of health officials is collecting all data and information we can from the area," said Nyoman Kandun, the health ministry's director general of communicable disease control.
The H5N1 virus has killed at least 140 people worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003.
Most people have been infected after coming into contact with sick birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans.