Thursday, December 20, 2007

Indonesia : At Least Four Recent Human Bird Flu Victims Had No Contact With Infected Poultry

Depending on which media, or government reports you believe, there has been at least 20 human bird flu infections in recent months, in Pakistan, China and Indonesia, where the victim had no known contact with infected poultry, which has been the most common way humans become infected with H5N1.

Indonesia 'bird flu officials' are now investigating at least four cases of human infection, where the most likely source of infection is human transmission. The same AFP story reveals that 20 percent of human bird flu infections in 2006 were not linked to infected poultry. But in 2007, that figure has risen to 3o percent. The good news for Indonesia is that human deaths from H5N1 have dropped in 2007 :

"In the last three to four months, we have had four cases where the poultry in the victim's neighbourhoods (tested) negative for the virus," said Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of Indonesia's National Avian Influenza Committee.

"The number is significant enough for us to intensify our investigations so that we could have a more accurate explanation," he told a press briefing giving an overview of what has happened in Indonesia this year with bird flu.

Krisnamurthi nevertheless insisted that Indonesia had made progress in tackling bird flu, with the number of reported cases decreasing this year.

In 2007, 40 cases were confirmed with 35 fatalities, compared to figures of 55 and 45, respectively, in 2006.

But he also conceded that Indonesia needed more effective measures, particularly to combat bird flu in poultry.

According to Krisnamurthi, even though the agriculture ministry vaccinated 70 percent of the country's farmed poultry in 2007, "the quality of the vaccine must be improved," he said.

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