Monday, August 13, 2007

Bali : First Test Confirms Mother And Daughter Died Of Bird Flu, Two Year Old Girl Hospitalised

Deadly Flu Epidemic Fills Australian Hospitals

Latest reports claim that a mother and child from a small Balinese village have died from bird flu. A two year old child, from the same village, has also been hospitalised with bird flu symptoms :

Health officials in Bali have confirmed that a woman and her daughter died there from the deadly H5N1 strain of influenza.

The deaths of the 29-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter were the first from bird flu in Bali and took the nation's toll to 83, a health official said.

The woman, Ni Luh Putu Sri Windani, lived in the northwest of the island, far from the major tourist centres.

She died yesterday, while her daughter died on August 3, said Bayu Krisnamurti, head of Indonesia's national bird flu commission.

"Both people are positive, from (tests at) the Eikman Institute and the health ministry's lab," he said.

In Indonesia two tests must be returned positive before a human infection is confirmed.

Chickens in Ms Windani's neighbourhood were positively infected, said Joko Suyono of the Bird Flu Information Centre in Jakarta.

Ms Windani, from a village in the district of Jembrana, was suffering from a high fever before dying of multiple organ failure, said Ken Wirasandi, a doctor at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar.

Mr Suyono said there had been sick chickens around the woman's house and many had died suddenly in recent weeks.

"The villagers didn't burn the carcasses. Instead they buried them or fed them to pigs," he said.

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Reuters is reporting that a 29 year old Indonesian woman who died over the weekend was infected with the bird flu virus. In Australia a 'killer flu' is now raging, filling emergency wards of city hospitals. More than 150 people in Sydney have died from influenza in the past six weeks.

In the past few days, the Australian influenza epidemic has killed infants and people under the age of 40.

The meeting of virulent influenza and H5N1 is the nightmare scenario long feared by the World Health Organisation :
Samples from an Indonesian woman who died on Sunday on the resort island of Bali have tested positive for bird flu after an initial test, officials said on Monday.

A second laboratory test, which is now being conducted, is necessary to confirm the initial findings, Joko Suyono of the health ministry's bird flu centre said.

The woman's five-year-old daughter also died recently after playing with chickens but it was unclear if the girl died of bird flu.

The woman, 29, from a village in the district of Jembrana in western Bali, was suffering from a high fever before dying of multiple organ failure, said Ken Wirasandi, a doctor at the Sanglah hospital in the Balinese capital Denpasar.

The woman had started showing symptoms more than a week ago, but was only admitted to hospital six days later.

Considering that hundreds of Australian tourists arrived back from Bali over the weekend, and there is a particularly virulent, and deadly, strain of Influenza A now killing infants and people under 40 years of age, the news that bird flu may have killed one or more people in Bali is remarkably close to the kinds of 'worst case scenarios' feared by Australian medical specialists and virologists and the World Health Organisation.

Bird flu pandemic-related exercises held earlier this year in Australia workshopped a scenario where virulent influenza was active in Australia, while the bird flu virus was claiming lives in Bali. The nightmare scenario workshopped was that Australia tourists, already sickened by influenza would come into contact with H5N1 and the combined viruses would mutate inside their hosts to create an easily transmissible form of H5N1.

With immune systems already weakened by Influenza A, the mutated H5N1 virus would then spread easily, and fast.


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