Indonesia culls pigs, tests two men for avian flu

Jul 25, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – In a response to Indonesia's first three fatal human cases of avian influenza, officials killed some infected pigs and poultry yesterday, but not as many as they had planned to, according to news services.

Plans had called for culling about 200 pigs in a village near the Jakarta suburb of Tangerang, the home of a man and two daughters who died of avian flu this month. But officials instead killed only 18 pigs, along with "dozens" of chickens and ducks, according to a Reuters report yesterday.

The agriculture minister, Anton Apriyantono, told a radio station that the original plan would have hurt the local economy, the story said. But his spokesman, Hari Priyono, said the plan was to kill only the pigs that tested positive for avian flu.

He said only 18 pigs tested "truly positive" for the virus, and those 18 were slaughtered, according to the story. "In days to come, whenever we find a positive one here, we will slaughter it straight away," he was quoted as saying.

Indonesian officials reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in May that the H5N1 avian flu virus had been detected in some pigs at two sites in Tangerang.

Indonesia's first human victims of avian flu were a 38-year-old man and his two daughters, aged 1 and 8, who died between Jul 9 and 14. Authorities have said they have no clear evidence that the three had had any contact with sick poultry or infected pigs.

Reports from Jakarta today said two men hospitalized in the city are being tested for avian flu even though indications are that they have some other illness.

A Reuters story said initial signs are that the two men, one of whom is a photographer who recently photographed chicken farms, have typhoid fever. The men were suffering from "high fever and flu symptoms," the story said.

But Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said the men were "suffering from an ordinary flu," according to a report in the Jakarta Post.

A World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman in Indonesia, Sari Setiogi, said samples from the two men would be sent to Hong Kong for testing, with results expected in 7 to 10 days, according to the Reuters report.

Reuters quoted Evi Zelvino of Jakarta's public health agency as saying the patients' "temporary diagnosis" was typhoid.

Zelvino also said authorities planned to investigate the case of a Malaysian who died earlier this month. Doctors have said the person died of typhoid, the story said.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities say they have ruled out avian flu in the investigation of a mysterious disease that has killed 17 farm workers and afflicted 41 more in southwestern China's Sichuan province, according to reports. The workers all fell ill after handling sick or dead pigs or sheep, reports said.

China Daily quoted Zeng Huajin, a senior provincial health official, as saying that the illness was probably caused by Streptococcus suis, a bacteria usually found in pigs.

"I can assure you that the disease is absolutely not SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome], anthrax or bird flu," Zeng said.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua said yesterday that the patients all had high fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and bruises under the skin. Other reports mentioned hemorrhaging.

Of the surviving patients, two had recovered, 27 were in stable condition, and 12 were in critical condition, Xinhua reported.

Bob Dietz, a WHO spokesman in Manila, told Reuters the disease didn't sound like avian flu because it didn't seem to involve "a large pneumonia content or a large respiratory problem."

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