Bali hit by bird flu again

There has been another death from bird flu in Bali; this time the victim is a 28-year-old woman.

She is the second woman to die from the deadly virus on the island and her death brings Indonesia's death toll to 84.

Health officials say Ayu Srinadi was from Kediri in the district of Tabanan, 20 kilometers west of the capital Denpasar; she was working as a poultry trader.

She apparently died on Tuesday at Bali's Sanglah Hospital where she had been for after 36-hours undergoing treatment for a high fever and acute pneumonia.

According to Daswir Nurdin, an official at the Health Ministry's bird flu information centre, test results confirm she had bird flu.

Nurdin says she had been in contact with a dead chicken a week before she was admitted to the hospital; she is the second person to die in Bali from the Avian Influenza virus in the space of two weeks.

There have been reports of chickens dying from bird flu in eight districts in the Tabanan region and over 6,000 birds are said to have been culled in the last two months.

The first confirmed victim was a 29-year-old woman, who died on August 12th following the death of her five-year-old daughter died on August 3rd after from flu-like symptoms.

The child's body was cremated before samples could be taken for testing.

Almost all human cases of H5N1 to date have been linked to contact with infected birds, but experts continue to fear the virus will ultimately mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

A 58-year-old man also being treated at Sanglah Hospital also appears to have flu-like symptoms, say health officials but his condition is said to be improving.

Bali relies heavily on tourism and the industry there has already suffered major setbacks with the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005; at a time when the industry is beginning to recover the last thing needed is a bird flu outbreak, therefore the bird flu issue is a sensitive one.

Health officials say Indonesia has sent bird flu samples to the World Health Organisation to allay fears over possible virus mutations in a move seen as part of an effort to encourage confidence and possibly lure tourists back to the island.

Health ministry spokeswoman, Lily Sulistyowati, said samples were sent to the WHO-affiliated Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on August 16 to prove to the world that the virus has not mutated in any way and that Bali was still safe to visit.

Indonesia had recently stopped sharing samples with international scientists researching mutations in order to develop an effective vaccine, on the grounds that any vaccines developed from its H5N1 virus strain would be prohibitively expensive to poorer counties.

Indonesia wanted a promise that any vaccine developed from it's live samples would be affordable to it's people.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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