Sep 9, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia's health ministry reported today that two men have died of H5N1 avian influenza over the past 3 months, marking the government's first official announcement of human cases since early June, when it said it would provide periodic updates instead of case-by-case notifications.
The update—in Bahasa, the language of Indonesia—appeared on the health ministry's Web site, Bloomberg News reported. So far, the government has not posted an English version of the update on the main ministry site or that of the country's avian flu committee.
As recounted by Bloomberg, Indonesia's description of the two cases generally agreed with earlier media accounts. The health ministry said one of the two men was a 20-year-old who died on July 31, according to Bloomberg. A media report in early August had described him as a 19-year-old from Tangerang, a suburb of Jakarta, who died in late July.
The health ministry said the other man was a 38-year-old truck driver from Banten province who got sick on Jul 4 and was hospitalized in Tangerang 5 days later. The ministry said he died on Jul 10, Bloomberg reported. Media reports in July had described him as a 38-year-old from Belendung, west of Jakarta, who died on Jul 10.
Tests on samples from poultry in the man's neighborhood were pending, the ministry statement said.
The health ministry also said that laboratory tests by its research center and the Eijkman Institute on samples from five provinces showed no evidence of human-to-human transmission of avian flu, Bloomberg reported.
On Jun 5, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said the government would announce human H5N1 cases at longer intervals, perhaps as long as 6 months, instead of as they are confirmed. Some health officials have said Indonesia's delay in reporting cases could hamper global efforts to monitor the risk of a flu pandemic.
Indonesia's announcement of the two recent deaths, combined with the previous media accounts, puts the country's H5N1 count at 137 cases and 112 deaths. However, the World Health Organization's global case count does not yet reflect the two deaths and stands at 135 cases and 110 deaths.
Aug 4 CIDRAP News story "Indonesia reports new H5N1 death"
Jul 18 CIDRAP News story "Another H5N1 death reported in Indonesia"