Thursday, October 06, 2005

Indonesia: still looking bad

The number of suspect bird flu cases in Indonesia continues to increase. The Bali bombings have taken the spotlight off of them, but make not mistake, this situation remains serious.

Antara News Service, in reporting two more cases today, breaks down the cases as follows: 75 suspected, 11 others probable and 4 confirmed by WHO's reference laboratory in Hong Kong. Another case was positive for antibodies but had no clinical symptoms. Thus this totals 91 suspected, probable or confirmed, up by a third from the previous counts which were in the sixties. Yesterday CIDRAP reported (via Agence France Presse) a count of 85, up from 60, roughly comparable to this.

CDC has sent a team to Indonesia to help the Indonesian Health Ministry nail this down. While the exact number of cases under observation is uncertain (is it 85? 89? 91?), it is probably irrelevant at this juncture. These case counts are mixtures of true cases and those who may have other diseases, but are almost certainly missing an unknown number of undetected or unrecognized cases. This outbreak started in July with three deaths in one family in Jakarta and has now ballooned thirty fold. There is also recognition that the virus is solidly entrenched in poultry and livestock throughout the country, with evidence of transmission between animals and humans after casual contact and possibly between people.

This has looked bad from the outset and it doesn't look any better now.