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EU says Indonesia needs help to fight bird flu JAKARTA - The European Union on Tuesday offered to help Indonesia fight bird flu, saying the world's fourth most populous nation needed assistance even though it had a plan and the political will to tackle the deadly virus. Visiting EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou, said help could take the form of surveillance as well as the vaccination and culling of chickens.

Indonesia has had five confirmed human deaths from the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Local tests have shown two others have died, although those results have yet to be confirmed by a Hong Kong laboratory affiliated with the World Health Organisation. "Indonesia has a plan and political will to handle its avian flu problem, but of course under the circumstances Indonesia needs international support. That is why we're here," Kyprianou said after meeting Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono.

"The more effective (we are) in dealing with the problem at its source, the better we protect humans." The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain is endemic in poultry in parts of Asia, where it is known to have killed 64 people. Most human bird flu cases have been blamed on direct or indirect contact with infected chickens. But experts fear H5N1 could mutate into a form that passes easily among people, just like human influenza. If it does, millions could die because they would have no immunity.

Kyprianou gave no details on assistance the EU might provide, but the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has sent an emergency team to Indonesia that will spearhead the testing of backyard chickens for bird flu across the main island of Java. Those teams hope to start work at the end of the month, the FAO has said. The FAO has said there were about 200 million chickens being raised by 30 million households in Indonesia.

In many parts of Asia, poultry live side-by-side people, increasing the chances of humans becoming infected by bird flu and making control measures much harder to implement. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made fighting bird flu one of the government's top priorities. The H5N1 virus has been found in 23 out of 33 provinces.

On Monday, he outlined measures to tackle the virus that included seeking licences to make anti-viral drugs as well as reviewing the budget to see if more funds could be allocated. But the government has largely resisted calls for a mass cull of chickens, saying it did not have the money to compensate owners. Apriyantono said his ministry would conduct a mass slaughter when newly infected areas were detected and selective culling and vaccinations where the H5N1 virus was endemic in poultry.

He said teams of volunteers, soldiers and students would fan out to test backyard chickens for bird flu next month. "The challenge is we need a great workforce and this should be well organised because this operation will be door-to-door," he said, without saying if this was part of the FAO plan. The H5N1 virus has also been found in birds in eastern Europe and there are fears migrating flocks could take it to the Middle East and Africa.


Link to related event Related event:
Bird flu in Indonesia

Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu') Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu'):
14 November 2005 · SBY puts bird flu death toll at 7
13 November 2005 · 20-year old woman may be next bird flu victim
09 November 2005 · Test shows new bird flu death in Indonesia
05 November 2005 · Fifth death from bird flu confirmed
03 November 2005 · Suspected bird flu cases in three children


Posted in Bird Flu @ 15 November 2005 11:18 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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