Another avian flu case likely in Indonesia

Dec 20, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Laboratory tests in Indonesia indicated that an 8-year-old boy who died Dec 15 had avian influenza, making him potentially the country's 11th victim of the disease, Indonesian officials reported yesterday.

The local test results were awaiting confirmation by a World Health Organization (WHO) reference lab in Hong Kong, Hariadi Wibisono of the Indonesian health ministry told Bloomberg News.

Indonesian officials also were still waiting for confirmation of local tests indicating that a 39-year-old man who died Dec 13 had avian flu.

The boy came from the Utan Kayu area on the east side of Jakarta, where a case had previously occurred in a 16-year-old girl who died last month, the Bloomberg story said.

In other developments, two more poultry outbreaks of H5 flu have been reported in Romania in the past few days. The country's 18th and 19th outbreaks were reported in poultry in the towns of Marsilieni and Chichinetu, both in the southeast, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports.

More than 100,000 poultry in Romania have been destroyed to contain the virus since the first outbreak there was discovered on Oct 7, AFP reported.

In neighboring Ukraine, agriculture officials said yesterday that a British lab had confirmed that avian flu outbreaks in 15 villages involved the H5N1 virus, according to a Bloomberg News story.

Health officials have seized and destroyed more than 63,000 poultry since the virus was first detected in Ukraine, the story said.

In South Korea, a newspaper said the government had found traces of avian flu in about 50 places during an investigation from Oct 1 to Dec 11, according to another Bloomberg report.

The newspaper, called Dong-a Ilbo, said the government found evidence of avian flu in eight regions, including an H5 virus in the western city of Ansan. The report said the government has promised to disclose findings of any H5 or H7 virus, according to Bloomberg.

In Ethiopia, tests indicate that hundreds of pigeons that died earlier this month succumbed to Newcastle disease, not avian flu, according to an AFP report published today.

Hundreds of pigeons died in eastern Ethiopia and in the capital, Addis Ababa, earlier this month. Ethiopian veterinary officials and Egyptian experts tested 62 dead and sick pigeons and also some healthy migratory birds, officials told AFP.

All the tests were negative for flu, but the dead birds had Newcastle disease, officials said.

Migratory birds from the Rift Valley region were included in the testing, the story said. It is feared that birds escaping the European winter and flocking in the Rift Valley may spread avian flu to Africa.

In Beijing today, a US official praised China for cooperating with the United States on research on avian flu, according to a Reuters report.

"There is a definite willingness to be completely cooperative, be completely transparent and to exchange samples with the WHO and with other partners so we can track the genetic changes," Elias Zerhouni, director of the US National Institutes of Health, told reporters.

Zerhouni favorably contrasted China's present cooperativeness with its lack of openness early in the SARS outbreak, Reuters reported.

The WHO confirmed that China has agreed to share avian flu viral isolates from human patients, the story said. WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said a Chinese official presented a draft agreement to the WHO in Beijing today.

A report by the Chinese news agency Xinhua said Chinese officials handed over viral isolates from human cases to Shigeru Omi of the WHO today.

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