Tick. Tick. Tick.
An international team of health investigators arrived on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Thursday to determine whether an unusually large cluster of human bird flu cases indicates that the highly lethal virus has mutated into a form easily spread among people.
Laboratory tests conducted for the World Health Organization confirmed this week that five members of one extended family in Kubu Sembilang village had died of bird flu during the first two weeks of May and a sixth had been infected but was recovering. A seventh family member, a 37-year-old woman who had been the first to fall ill, is also suspected of succumbing to the disease but was buried before samples could be taken.