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Bird flu might have spread to more provinces JAKARTA - Government authorities said Monday that avian influenza might have spread to more provinces in Indonesia as the country's president appointed a state-run pharmaceutical company to produce the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to fight the illness. Authorities have so far confirmed that the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus has infected fowl through 23 of Indonesia's 33 provinces, but senior officials said new infections were suspected elsewhere, and that the outbreaks increase the risk of the virus mutating into a strain that's more contagious to humans and could lead to a pandemic that health experts fear could kill millions.

"It might have spread to more than 23 provinces," Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono told reporters. "University students have collected samples from chickens in Kalimantan, Sumatra and other places. We are now analyzing them." Apriantono expected the results of the test results, conducted on blood and other samples from fowl collected by veterinary students from four universities, to be announced on December 15.

Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed the state-run PT Kimia Farma to produce Tamiflu after receiving approval from the Swiss drug company Roche Holding AG, which holds the Tamiflu patent. Roche approved the production of Tamiflu in Indonesia without a license because the medicine is not protected by a patent in the Southeast Asian nation. Indonesia health officials aim to stockpile enough of the anti-viral drug to treat about 22 million people - around 10 per cent of its population.

Health ministry officials have said that a dozen people have been confirmed to have been infected with avian influenza. Seven of them have died while five have either recovered or are still receiving treatment. Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Monday that her office is waiting for confirmation from World Health Organization (WHO) labs in Hong Kong of local test results that showed a man who died recently was the country's eight fatality from bird flu.

Bird flu has claimed the lives of at least 68 people in Asia since 2003. Besides the latest fatality in Indonesia, WHO was also checking positive tests for a woman farmer in China. The countries reporting human cases and deaths from bird flu are Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and China.


Link to related event Related event:
Bird flu in Indonesia

Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu') Related blog entries (category 'Bird Flu'):
27 November 2005 · Indonesia reports new human bird flu case
26 November 2005 · Roche says Indonesia can make Tamiflu
24 November 2005 · Aceh hit by bird flu
18 November 2005 · Two bird flu deaths not linked to birds


Posted in Bird Flu @ 29 November 2005 07:17 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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