JAKARTA, Indonesia, June
20, 2005 (ENS): Indonesia has confirmed its first case
of avian influenza in humans, bringing the number of countries with
confirmed human cases of the disease to four.
The virulent H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus has killed 38
people in Vietnam since it appeared in December 2003. Twelve Thais
and four Cambodians have also died.
A farm worker in South Sulawesi, Indonesia has tested positive
for the H5N1 strain, although health officials report he is not
feeling ill or showing symptoms. A laboratory in Hong Kong found
the infection in his blood, sent in a batch of samples from 79 farm
workers in March.
The farm workers were tested after the avian flu epidemic killed
at least 25,000 chickens in Sulawesi.
A second confirmatory test took weeks to conduct because the man
left his job and had to be traced to his home village before his
blood could be retested.
The Indonesian health ministry's chief of epidemiological surveillance
Muhammad Nadhirin confirmed that the Sulawesi worker had tested
positive for bird flu.
Since 2003, the H5N1 viral strain has infected chickens and other
birds in 18 Indonesian provinces on seven islands, and the government
is conducting a vaccination effort to protect poultry against the
To date, most human cases of bird flu have happened as a result
of human contact with infected birds.
Health authorities are watching closely for human cases of the H5N1
strain of the virus. They fear the virus might develop into a form
which can be transmitted from person to person.
That could happen even in an individual who shows no symptoms of
the avian influenza. Officials worry that if that person also catches
human flu at the same time as a bird flu virus is circulating in
his or her blood, there could be a genetic crossover, yielding a
new influenza strain that spreads rapidly around the world.
In Vietnam, where most of the human cases have occurred, the Ministry
of Health in Vietnam said Friday that since June 1, four cases of
human infection with H5N1 avian influenza virus were reported. Two
of the patients are from Hanoi and one is from the nearby province
of Hai Duong. The fourth patient is from the central province of
All four of the patients are alive. At present, a total of seven
patients are being treated for H5N1 avian influenza at a hospital
A Vietnamese doctor in Hanoi who helped take samples from the avian
influenza patients initially tested positive for the disease on
Friday, but a second test showed negative results, said Tran Quy,
director of Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi.
Eleven avian influenza patients have been hospitalized at the National
Institute for Clinical Research of Tropical Medicine in Hanoi, health
officials said. The center is also treating 12 suspected avian influenza
cases. Their conditions are all "relatively stable."
Although the development of avian influenza in humans has been less
serious than at the beginning of the latest outbreak in late 2004,
its indications are "untypical and changing," doctors
at the hospital warned.
In a government notice this month that seeks to limit the spread
of bird flu, China warned scientists against conducting "unsafe"
research into avian influenza. Scientists have been ordered to seek
approval from the ministry of agriculture before transporting microbe
"No unit or person is allowed to dissect poultry or wild animals
that have died from disease, or to collect or transport samples
without the approval of animal health authorities at the provincial
level or above. No unit or person is allowed to collect samples
and microbes and ship them overseas without the agriculture ministry's
permission," the notice said.
Millions of chickens and ducks have been killed in China in an
effort to combat bird flu, yet outbreaks are still occurring in
Jia Youling, director general of the Veterinary Bureau, Ministry
of Agriculture, Beijing, said more than 13,000 geese were destroyed
on June 8 in Tacheng City in the Xinjiang autonomous region after
about 1,000 birds were found to be infected with the H5N1 viral
strain. The disease was spread by migratory birds, the ministry
Xinjiang autonomous region borders the province of Qinghai, where
an extensive outbreak in wild geese and other wild birds was reported
by the Chinese authorities in May.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All Rights Reserved.