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Indonesia prepares hospitals for bird flu care, checks JAKARTA - Indonesia is preparing 44 hospitals across the sprawling archipelago for treatment and detection of bird flu after the country recorded its first deaths from the virus, the health minister said on Thursday. Siti Fadillah Supari also told reporters authorities were yet to determine how a government official and his two young daughters living in a Jakarta suburb contracted the virus.

All three died earlier this month, but the official's wife and son have not shown any signs of the disease. The family lived in Tangerang, a suburb about 30 km (20 miles) from the centre of Jakarta, a city of 10 million. "We will still investigate and do surveillance ... Until now, we don't know the cause," Supari said. Speaking at the same news conference, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Georg Petersen said: "It is an alarming situation. It shows us that most countries can get this infection and we need all to be alert and prepared."

Avian influenza, which arrived in Asia in late 2003, has so far also killed 40 people in Vietnam, half of them since December, 12 in Thailand and four Cambodians. Health authorities fear the virus will mutate and become easily passed between humans, which could cause a global pandemic. Supari said a pig farm 15 km (nine miles) from the victims' home in Tangerang had been reported infected by bird flu in April, and slaughter of sick animals had taken place.

But, she said, "Actually the whole (farm's animals) should have been destroyed." People should be vigilant in trying to eradicate bird flu and detect symptoms, but should not panic, Supari added. On Wednesday, when announcing the three deaths were linked to bird flu, Supari had said: "The results show (the virus is) a conventional one, and not a new virus. Therefore, there is no need to worry about human-to-human transmission."

WHO's Petersen said on Thursday: "We have not seen any infection spreading outside intimate family contact. So we don't say it's a human to human transmission." Authorities have taken samples of more than 300 people who had contact with the family. They also plan to carry out extensive tests on animals within a 20-km radius of the family's house and slaughter those infected. Last month, Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country with 220 million people, had reported its first human case in a poultry worker, but the man did not develop symptoms and is healthy.

The agriculture ministry has reported sporadic H5N1 virus outbreaks killing more than nine million fowl in 21 provinces, out of a total of 33, across the archipelago since late 2003. Indonesian policy has favoured vaccinating animals rather than culling to stop the spread of bird flu, due to lack of funds to compensate farmers. The World Health Organisaton has questioned the effectiveness of vaccines and say culling is the best weapon.

On the issue of culling, Petersen said: "That has been done partly in Indonesia, but previously so many of the outbreaks here have also been among small farms ... more difficult for the authorities to control." The virus has already jumped species in Indonesia and was discovered in pigs in May on densely populated Java island. Pigs can carry human flu viruses, which can combine with avian viruses, swap genes and create virulent new strains, health experts say. However, pig farming in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is not widespread. Islam regards pigs as unclean animals.


Link to related event Related event:
Bird flu in Indonesia

Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu') Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu'):
20 July 2005 · Indonesia says first human death linked to bird flu
16 July 2005 · Bird flu suspected in 3 deaths in Indonesia
15 July 2005 · Jakarta raises bird flu alert
16 June 2005 · Indonesia, first human case of bird flu


Posted in Bird Flu @ 21 July 2005 08:47 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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