Avian flu cases confirmed in Indonesia, China

Jun 15, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today reported Indonesia's 50th human case of H5N1 avian influenza, while Chinese authorities said further tests have confirmed a case reported yesterday in a man from Guangdong province.

The WHO said the Indonesian Ministry of Health confirmed that a 7-year-old girl who died Jun 1 had the illness. She was the 38th Indonesian to succumb to the infection. The government's announcement followed confirmation of her case in a WHO-accredited laboratory, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today.

The girl, from Tangerang district in Banten province, became ill on May 26 and was hospitalized May 30, the WHO said. Her 10-year-old brother died of a respiratory illness May 29, but the cause of his death is unknown because no samples were taken for testing before his burial, the agency said.

Investigators found "a history of chicken deaths in the household and neighborhood" before the girl got sick, the WHO said. Testing of surviving family members and close contacts has uncovered no more cases.

I Nyoman Kandun of the health ministry said initial tests in the girl's case, run at a laboratory in Hong Kong, were negative, but another sample was sent for testing, according to the AFP report.

In China, health officials said test results today confirmed avian flu in a 31-year-old man from the southern city of Shenzhen, according to another AFP report. Initial news reports on the man's case yesterday said he had tested positive in a Shenzhen lab and that samples had been sent to China's Ministry of Health for confirmatory testing.

The health ministry said the man, surnamed Jiang, had fallen ill with fever and pneumonia-like symptoms on Jun 3, according to AFP. His case is China's 19th, of which 12 have been fatal. The WHO has not yet included the case in its official count, which stands at 226 cases with 129 deaths since late 2003.

According to AFP, the health ministry said the man had repeatedly visited a market where live poultry were sold before he got sick. Officials said close contacts of the man have been under observation and none have been ill so far.

The man's case has raised alarm in nearby Hong Kong. The city's health secretary, York Chow, today announced a 3-week ban on poultry imports from the mainland, AFP reported.

In other news, the Jakarta Post reported today that many people across Indonesia are refusing to support the government's program to contain avian flu, resisting government orders to kill poultry in outbreak areas.

Residents of the Karo district in North Sumatra, where the largest known family cluster of cases occurred in May, yesterday protested a decree that all poultry within 1 km of an outbreak must be culled, the newspaper reported.

"We reject the decree because we don't believe our fowl have caught bird flu," one demonstrator was quoted as saying.

In Gowa regency in South Sulawesi, thousands of chickens have been dying daily, with random testing pointing to avian flu in most cases, the Post reported. Residents burn the dead birds, but they leave the survivors alone, allowing the disease to spread, the story said.

"I don't want to kill the rest of my chickens because the government has not promised me any compensation," one resident told the newspaper.

The story said the government has allocated about US $3.3 million to compensate people for culled poultry, which works out to a per-chicken payment well below the market price.

See also:

Jun 15 WHO statement on Indonesian case

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