Indonesia reports 54th avian flu case

Jul 17, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesian health officials are reporting that a 44-year-old man who died last week tested positive for the H5N1 avian influenza virus, according to news services.

If the man's lab results are confirmed by a World Health Organization (WHO) accredited laboratory in Hong Kong, he will be Indonesia’s 42nd avian flu fatality and 54th confirmed case. Also, Indonesia will be tied with Vietnam for the highest avian flu death toll.

The man, who lived in East Jakarta, died Jul 12 after being hospitalized for 2 days with high fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties, Indonesian health official I Nyoman Kandun told The Jakarta Post. Kandun said the man had a history of contact with chickens, and the article said he was a fried-chicken vendor.

With the latest death, the case-fatality rate for avian flu in Indonesia is 78%, whereas Vietnam, with 93 cases and 42 deaths, has a fatality rate of 45%. According to the WHO tally, the overall case-fatality rate is 57% (230 cases, 132 deaths).

Kandun said Indonesia expects more human H5N1 cases because the disease continues to circulate throughout the country, with a presence in 27 of 32 provinces. He added that culling millions of chickens throughout the country would be too costly and urged Indonesians to take basic safety measures such as washing their hands after handling sick birds.

Vietnam seems to have stemmed avian flu outbreaks. The country has not reported a human fatality this year, whereas Indonesia has had several cases each month.

According to the Post report, the Indonesian government needs $980 million to finance its avian influenza programs from 2006 to 2008. The funds would go toward activities such as compensating farmers for culled chickens, purchasing vaccines, and planning for a pandemic.

A senior WHO official in Indonesia, Steven Bjorge, told the Post that worldwide concern about the avian flu situation in Indonesia is continuing and said he hoped that health and agriculture ministries would work more closely to fight the disease. He suggested that that comparisons between Indonesia and Vietnam can be misleading, because Indonesia is much larger than Vietnam. (Indonesia has the world's fourth largest population and the 16th largest area, whereas Vietnam ranks 12th and 65th in those measures.)

In other developments, yesterday at the Group of Eight summit meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, world leaders issued a joint statement supporting a Russian proposal to build "the WHO Collaborating Centre on Influenza for Eurasia and Central Asia," provided the center meets WHO and other international standards. Leaders also vowed to follow through on the commitments they made last January at the Beijing International Pledging Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza.

Meanwhile, Channel NewsAsia reported that Singapore will stage a large-scale test of its pandemic response plan on Jul 21 and 22. The test, called Exercise Sparrowhawk II, will involve 1,000 personnel from key government agencies and 19 locations, including transportation terminals, hospitals, clinics, and schools.

The report said masks will be given to visitors at hospitals, and the health ministry will ask the public to wear masks if they experience flu-like symptoms. Rapid-response teams are slated to institute infection control measures and manage initial cases at healthcare facilities. Hundreds of volunteers will play the role of patients, and police will practice for crowd-control situations, such as when people descend on clinics to purchase antiviral medications.

See also:

G8 summit statement on global fight against infectious diseases
http://www.en.g8russia.ru/docs/10.html

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