Indonesia reports another avian flu case

Oct 7, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesian authorities said yesterday a hospitalized 21-year-old man had tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza.

Indonesia's Antara news agency said the man lives in Lampung but did not name him. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in Jakarta indicated avian flu, the report said. A Reuters report described the man as being in stable condition.

The Antara report said a 23-year-old man who died last week also tested positive by PCR in a Jakarta laboratory. His case was reported by the news media on Oct 5. Samples from both men were sent to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) reference laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmatory testing.

The disease-control chief at the health ministry said both of the young men had direct contact with dead poultry, Reuters reported.

The number of avian flu cases in Indonesia has been hard to determine. Counting the 21-year-old, the Indonesian government has reported 10 cases this year, including seven deaths, according to CIDRAP's analysis of news reports. But the WHO has officially confirmed only four of those, including three fatal ones.

Cases listed by the government have included a 5-year-old girl whose test results conflicted and a poultry worker who never showed symptoms but had antibodies to the virus. (CIDRAP's unofficial case count includes the poultry worker but not the girl.)

Yesterday, however, the government appeared to be trimming its official case numbers to match the WHO's. An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report said the government was lowering its count of fatal cases from six to three. The report quoted Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari as saying, "We have had four definite cases. Of the four, three had died."

She said those three did not include the 23-year-old who died last week. She added, "However we are positive the person died of bird flu even though the WHO has not recorded it."

A Jakarta Post report today quoted the Health Ministry as saying that a total of 89 people in the country have been hospitalized for avian flu. Of those, 73 cases were still under investigation, 11 people had probable cases, and 6 people tested positive. The story didn't explain why the numbers didn't add up to 89.

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