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Expect more human bird flu cases, WHO tells Jakarta

by 5m Editor
12 September 2005, at 12:00am

INDONESIA - Indonesia said on Monday it will test people for bird flu who had contact with a woman in Jakarta suspected of having died from the virus, as United Nations health authorities said more cases could be expected.

Expect more human bird flu cases, WHO tells Jakarta - INDONESIA - Indonesia said on Monday it will test people for bird flu who had contact with a woman in Jakarta suspected of having died from the virus, as United Nations health authorities said more cases could be expected.

The woman, 37, died on Saturday in a hospital in the capital after suffering from pneumonia and flu-like respiratory problems since Sept. 6.

Initial tests were positive for the H5N1 virus and more blood samples were being sent to a laboratory in Hong Kong for further testing, officials said.

They said the results should be known in a week. If confirmed, the death would be the fourth from the virus in Indonesia.

"We're sending a surveillance (team) to investigate people who had contact with the victim, and learn of her activities before she turned ill," Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari told reporters.

Supari added that authorities would check a chicken farm not far from the woman's house south of Jakarta.

The H5N1 strain has killed 63 people in Asia since late 2003.

The government has launched a vaccination drive for poultry but carried out only limited culling because it does not have enough money to compensate farmers.

The U.N. World Health Organisation (WHO) says the preferable approach is mass culling.

The virus has spread to 22 provinces out of 33 in the sprawling archipelago, killing more than 9.5 million poultry since late 2003.

"The culling problem is very complicated for Indonesia. More than half of all chickens in Indonesia are backyard chickens," said Dr Steven Bjorge, technical officer of emerging diseases at the WHO office in Jakarta.

Bjorge said he expected more human infections in Indonesia.

"We have to expect there will be more cases because the virus clearly has been ... endemic in the bird population," he said.

"As far as my confidence (in) the Indonesian response from the health side, I know that people are working very hard."

In July, Indonesia confirmed its first human casualties of H5N1 -- a father and his two young daughters in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta. But authorities could not pinpoint the source that infected the family.

Source: Reuters - 12th September 2005

5m Editor