Indonesian health workers vaccinate an exotic bird (file photo) (epa)
May 24, 2006 -- A World Health Organization (WHO) official says the deaths from bird flu of six family members in Indonesia are the most worrying development since the disease began to spread in 2003.
Peter Cordingley, the spokesman for the WHO's West Pacific region, said the victims make up the largest cluster of human bird-flu cases seen so far, suggesting that the disease may have passed from person to person.
"Until we find a common source of infection, then we have to treat this as potentially human-to-human transmission," he told reporters on May 24.
Cordingley said Indonesia and other countries need to step up their surveillance efforts in order to identify and respond to bird flu.
Most of the 124 people confirmed to have died from the deadly strain of bird flu -- H5N1 -- around the world, mostly in Asia, appear to have caught the disease from direct contact with sick poultry.