Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Indonesia, more

The news from Indonesia continues to be worrisome. Recombinomics has a summary of the three or four children reported hospitalized with probable bird flu, including a nephew of last week's confirmed bird flu death. Today Indonesian health authorities announced "extraordinary" measures in the face of what might be a widening circle of infection:
JAKARTA: Suspected bird flu patients can be forced into hospital under "extraordinary" measures welcomed by the World Health Organization to counter a widening outbreak of the virus in Indonesia, officials said.

A day after declaring the country faces an "extraordinary incident" because of bird flu, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said the number of cases has continued to rise in the country where four have died from bird flu over the past two months.

She said six patients are now being treated at a hospital for respiratory ailments.

"Two are almost certain to be bird flu cases. Four others are still under observation but judging from the symptoms, they are similar to those of bird flu although there is yet no laboratory evidence that they are positive," the minister said after the opening of a regional health ministers' meeting. (AFP via ChannelNewsAsia)
Two of the cases are reported to be in employees of Jakarta's popular zoo, which discovered over the weekend 19 infected birds of various species. One was a 28 year old tour guide and the other a 39 year old vendor. Thus neither were in continual and habitual occupational contact with the birds. Both have been hospitalized with symptoms of bird flu (CBS News).

It should be obvious that this represents an extremely serious situation. We should know within the next few days if we have entered WHO's pandemic phase five (Larger cluster(s) but human-to-human spread still localized, suggesting that the virus is becoming increasingly better adapted to humans, but may not yet be fully transmissible (substantial pandemic risk)) or even phase 6, the start of a pandemic (Pandemic: increased and sustained transmission in general population).

A good source of information on local,national and international pandemic preparedness plans and much other information is the Flu Wiki. Read it, use it, build it.