As avian influenza continues its seemingly relentless spread around the world the number of human cases, and fatalities, from the flu increases. This story covered the first deaths in Indonesia and growing fears of human-to-human spread.
There is some debate about human-to-human transmission, especially on the blogs that are covering this story most intently. Some would argue that this has happened and there is already ample evidence of this. They cite clusters of cases in families where the second case must have been caught from another family member and not from a common source (say contact with infected birds). Virologists say that even if the case has spread from human-to-human this does not necessarily mean that the virus has mutated into one that is easily transmitted. It may be, they say, that the first infected family member exudes so much infective material that it is picked up by other members of the family.
This article, on June 21st 2005 in The Economist is a short update of the situation in Indonesia.
Further reading on avian influenza:
World Health Organisation Avian flu FAQ
Wikipedia – avian influenza
Blogs about influenza
Avian flu, What we need to know.
Bird flu today
Recombinomics, What's new.