The island of Bali has always been a separate part of Indonesia. A Hindu province inside the biggest Muslim country in the world, a jet-setting resort inside a poor, rural nation — and a zone free of human cases of avian influenza in the nation that has recorded the most bird flu infections in the world. But Bali is bird flu free no longer. Today the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the death of a young Balinese woman from H5N1 avian flu, the second case on the island in less than a month. Although Indonesian and WHO officials were quick to note that there was nothing clinically unusual about the Bali deaths — both victims apparently contracted the virus from infected poultry — the presence of human bird flu cases on a small island that hosts well over a million foreign tourists a year only adds to fears that H5N1 could eventually trigger a deadly flu pandemic that could spread around the world.
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