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Indonesia ends bird flu source probe, case unsolved

by 5m Editor
10 August 2005, at 12:00am

INDONESIA - Indonesia's search for the source of the bird flu virus that killed three people near its densely populated capital, Jakarta, has ended in failure, the health minister said on Wednesday.

Indonesia ends bird flu source probe, case unsolved - INDONESIA - Indonesia's search for the source of the bird flu virus that killed three people near its densely populated capital, Jakarta, has ended in failure, the health minister said on Wednesday.

Health experts said they could not pinpoint the source and decided to end the investigation into how a man and his two young daughters contracted the deadly H5N1 strain last month.

They were the country's first human casualties of the virus.

"After lengthy research, we've decided to cease the investigation," Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari told reporters.

"With our knowledge and research, we have tried very hard to link the deaths of the family with every possibility."

Experts had said locating the source of the infection would be key to preventing further deaths.

But in the world's fourth most populous country, a sprawling archipelago dotted with small farms where even many urban families keep chickens, pinpointing the source was always going to be difficult.

Supari said there were no fresh human cases reported after authorities tested more than 300 people who had contact with the family.

She also said tests on several people, including a news photographer, who had been under close observation for bird flu, were negative.

"The ministry will increase alertness through surveillance, monitoring and technical preparations such as hospitals and ports," said Supari.

Indonesia has prepared 44 hospitals across the country for the treatment of possible outbreaks.

A lack of funds to compensate farmers has seen Indonesia vaccinate healthy animals in affected areas rather than use mass culling -- a method recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Bird flu recently killed another person in Vietnam, taking the number of deaths in Asia to 62.

Outbreaks in wildfowl and poultry have also been recorded in Russia and Kazakhstan since mid-July, sparking fears of a worldwide pandemic. In Kazakhstan, it was confirmed on Wednesday the strain was deadly H5N1.

In Indonesia, the virus has spread to 21 provinces out of 33 since late 2003, killing around 9.5 million fowl. The virus jumped species into pigs in Indonesia on densely populated Java island earlier this year.

Health experts say pigs can carry human flu viruses, which can combine with the avian viruses, swap genes and mutate into a form which can pass easily among humans.

In an effort to help the industry, the government has launched a campaign to raise awareness that poultry is safe to eat if cooked properly.

Source: Reuters - 10th August 2005

5m Editor