Complicating this story, the mother of these two children died about a week later. But from media reports it isn’t clear whether appropriate samples were taken for lab testing before she was buried (see Indonesia: Bali Bird Flu Suspect Dies, Suspect Cases Increase in Mataram).
For now, she remains an unconfirmed case.
The WHO statement reads:
26 October 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Indonesia has announced two new confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus.
The first case is a 5-year old female from Bangli district, Bali Province. She developed symptoms on 27 September, and was first admitted to a local general hospital on 5 October. She died on 9 October.
The second case is a 10-year old male, the brother of the first case. He developed symptoms on 30 September, and was first admitted to the hospital on the same day as his sister. He died on 10 October.
An epidemiological investigation conducted by the Ministry of Health and local health officers indicated that the children lived in an area with poultry, and household and neighborhood poultry had died prior to the children’s illnesses.
Laboratory tests have confirmed infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus.
Of the 181 cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 149 have been fatal.
While accurate case counts are highly dependent upon surveillance, testing, and reporting – the quality of which vary considerably around the world - the H5N1 virus still appears primarily a threat to poultry and wild birds.
The virus continues to cause rare, sporadic human infections in countries where the virus is endemic, but seldom appears to have been transmitted on to others.
The concern, of course, is that over time the virus will better adapt to human physiology, and present a greater public health threat.
And so scientists continue to monitor the virus’s progress with considerable interest (see H5N1: An Increasingly Complex Family Tree).