Supari denies H5N1 caused girl's death

Nov 13, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari today denied reports that a 15-year-old girl who recently died had H5N1 avian influenza.

News services—citing one of the girl's doctors and a local health official—reported yesterday that tests from two laboratories showed that the girl from central Java, who died Nov 7, had the virus. If the reports are correct and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes her infection, her illness will be listed as Indonesia's 138th H5N1 case and 113th death.

However, Supari said today that two laboratory tests came back negative, according to reports from Agence France-Presse and Xinhua, China's state news agency. "Both of the laboratory tests showed that she was negative of bird flu, so the total death toll (of bird flu) remains 112," she told Xinhua.

The girl reportedly lived near a poultry slaughterhouse.

News about human H5N1 infections in Indonesia since June has been difficult to evaluate, because the health ministry said then it would no longer promptly report H5N1 cases, instead giving only periodic updates. Some health officials have said the lack of prompt reporting will hamper efforts to monitor the world's pandemic risk level.

In other developments, 17 people from Sudiang subdistrict in Indonesia's South Sulawesi province have been hospitalized in Makassar for symptoms that resemble avian influenza, the Jakarta Post reported today. Thirteen of the patients are children.

Andi Kurina Bintang told the Post that the patients had high fever, coughing, and breathing difficulty. "Rapid tests showed they may be infected with H5N1 avian influenza virus, but we are waiting for blood test results to come back from the Hasanuddin University lab," she said.

She said 31 chickens had died in the subdistrict the week before three toddlers became ill, according to the Post report.

Sulistiawati, a livestock official in Makassar, told the Post that rapid tests on several of the chickens were positive for the virus.

See also:

Nov 12 CIDRAP News story "Indonesian sources say teen died of H5N1 infection"

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