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September 28, 2005

At least 57 people suspected of contracting bird flu in Indonesia

The coming pandemic appears to have got a step closer. How many more steps remain is unclear. Not many IMO.
JAKARTA (AFP) - At least 57 people were being treated for suspected bird flu in Indonesia, where the disease has already claimed six lives, officials said.

OF the total, 20 patients were under observation at Jakarta's Sulianti Saroso hospital for infectious diseases, a doctor there, Ilham Patu, said.

The latest suspected case, a 23-year-old man from the capital, was admitted late Tuesday.

Blood and muccus samples from the patients were being tested locally with any positive results indicating bird flu being sent to World Health Organization laboratories in Hong Kong for confirmation.

Since Monday the hospital has released five people who were suspected of contracting bird flu but tested negative.

Health ministry spokesman Sumardi said Wednesday that a shipment of some 20,000 doses of Tamiflu, anti-viral medication that can stop flue if given quickly when symptoms develop, will arrive in the country on Friday.

"This medicine will be sold commercially at pharmacies," he said. So far, it has only been available in hospitals.

Six Indonesians have died of bird flu, bringing to 65 the number of people in Southeast Asia known to have died from the H5N1 strain of the virus since 2003. Vietnam has recorded 43 deaths, Thailand 12 and Cambodia four.

The WHO fears H5N1 will mutate, acquiring genes from the human influenza virus that would make it highly infectious and lethal to millions in a global pandemic.

But it has also urged calm, saying investigations in Indonesia had produced no evidence that H5N1 was spreading easily from person to person.

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Posted by dymaxion at September 28, 2005 12:16 PM

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