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Bird Flu Virus Moves East, Infects Indonesia's Papua

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  • Bird Flu Virus Moves East, Infects Indonesia's Papua

    Bird Flu Virus Moves East, Infects Indonesia's Papua (Update1)

    May 16 (Bloomberg) -- Bird flu was found in fowl in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, evidence the lethal virus is moving closer to the South Pacific and Australia.

    The H5N1 strain of avian influenza earlier this month reached the province that borders Papua New Guinea, Laurence Gleeson, an official with the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, told reporters yesterday in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. The H5N1 virus has reappeared in Laos and may spread to Bangladesh, Gleeson said.

    ``As long as there is a lot of bird flu in Indonesia, then clearly it does remain somewhat of a source of disease for other countries in the area,'' said Gleeson, the Bangkok-based regional manager of the FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases. ``If it arrives in Papua New Guinea then there are other nations in the South Pacific which would also be at risk.''

    Infected poultry increase the risk of human infection and create opportunities for the virus to mutate into a pandemic form that may kill millions of people. Fatalities from H5N1 this year have almost matched 2005 levels as the virus spread to more than 30 countries on three continents.

    The H5N1 virus has killed at least 115 of 208 people known to have been infected since late 2003, the World Health Organization said on May 12. It's infected at least 64 people this year, killing 39 of them.

    Representatives from the FAO, the WHO and Asia-Pacific governments are meeting this week in Jakarta to discuss food security, poverty and preparing for disasters, such as a possible flu pandemic.

    Indonesian Deaths

    Indonesian and WHO authorities are investigating the deaths of five people in the North Sumatra province. The patients, who had common ancestors, tested positive for H5N1 by a local laboratory and present one of the largest clusters of cases.

    ``I'm more concerned about this cluster'' than previous ones, said Tuty Hendrar, deputy director of medical services and nursing at the Sulianti Saroso Hospital, in an interview today. The Jakarta hospital, which has treated most of Indonesia's H5N1 patients, is helping advise medical staff in North Sumatra on the outbreak, Tuty said.

    A cluster of H5N1 infections may signal the virus is becoming more contagious to people.

    At this stage ``there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission'' in North Sumatra, Tuty said.

    Pandemic Threat

    A pandemic occurs when a new A-type influenza virus emerges and starts spreading as easily as seasonal flu, through coughing and sneezing, according to the Geneva-based WHO. Humans have no natural immunity to H5N1, making it likely that people who contract any pandemic flu based on that strain will become more seriously ill than when infected by seasonal flu.

    H5N1 ``has exposed human vulnerability in this age of great scientific advances,'' Kennedy Shortridge, an emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said in an interview earlier this month. ``Here we have a little simple flu virus that can hold us to ransom. It's probing our defenses.''

    Almost all human H5N1 cases have been linked to close contact with sick or dead birds, such as children playing with them or adults butchering them, according to the WHO. Cooking meat and eggs properly kills the virus.

    ``This virus has the potential to cause really explosive epidemics because it's very infectious for poultry and also it's relatively environmentally resistant,'' Gleeson said. ``It can stick around for a number of days in a market environment, for instance. It has the potential for rapid expansion.''

    Case in Laos

    The virus infected a duck farm near the Laotian capital, Vientiane, remerging in late April, Gleeson said. Previous outbreaks occurred in 2003.

    Bangladesh ``is probably under considerable threat because it has a large population of ducks, lots of water and they're on a migratory pathway'' for wild birds, Gleeson told the Jakarta conference yesterday.

    The disease is probably endemic in many parts of Asia where domestic poultry often are raised in farmers' backyards, he said. In Indonesia, the world's fourth-most-populous nation, outbreaks have occurred in fowl in at least 26 of the country's 33 provinces.

    ``The endemic circulation of the virus in backyard chickens is going to be a real challenge in Indonesia,'' Gleeson told reporters. Some urban dwellers may need to be deterred from keeping poultry as a hobby, he said. ``They don't need to have 20 chickens in the backyard.''

    Maldives, Sri Lanka

    Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, which haven't reported any H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, have a lower risk of infection, as does Australia, Gleeson said.

    Gleeson blamed some of the virus's spread on cock fighting. Some roosters are taken on national and international tours as part of a sport that's popular in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.

    ``Fighting cocks could well be a common risk factor for the spread'' of H5N1, Gleeson said. ``In some countries, fight cock owners are very reluctant to vaccinate their birds. They feel that this will have some deleterious effect on their athletic performance.''

  • #2
    Pacific countries on risk of bird flu

    Going by the numbers listed below 26 deaths out of 35 cases = ~75% as does the latest 6 deaths out of 35 cases.

    Pacific countries on risk of bird flu 16/5/2006 13:45

    Some small countries in the Pacific region may get infected with bird flu, as the disease had contaminated poultry in Indonesia's Papua Province, which was bordered with Papua New Guinea, an UN official said in Jarkarta yesterday.

    Papua New Guinea was currently on threat of being contracted bythe virus, said Laurence J. Gleesen, Regional Manager of Emergency Center for Transboundary Disease Control of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

    "If they arrived into Papua New Guinea and I think other nations in the South Pacific would also be at risk. I don't mean Australia. I mean some of the small nations, because there are rapid movement of people and other products," (Why not Australia? Did the US let them borrow their forcefield?) Gleesen told reporters on the sideline of the 28th Regional Conference of FAO for Asia and the Pacific Region which kicked off here on Monday morning.

    It was last month when the Papua poultry were contracted with H5N1 virus, according to the official.

    "We know that this disease has recently arrived in the province of Papua. It was certainly moved by the poultry and the poultry products, so the spread of the disease is clearly a threat to Papua New Guinea," he said.

    Twenty six out of 35 people infected by the disease in Indonesia have died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Last week, five Indonesian people from a blood-related family were infected with avian influenza virus according to test by the country's laboratory. Three of them have died.


    • #3
      Re: Bird Flu Virus Moves East, Infects Indonesia's Papua

      Right now, more than anything I would give a great deal to know all the pertinent dates. When did these people show the first sign of illness? How long did they go without treatment? The WHO is sitting on all the dates and I am getting fairly frustrated.
      Please do not ask me for medical advice, I am not a medical doctor.

      Avatar is a painting by Alan Pollack, titled, "Plague". I'm sure it was an accident that the plague girl happened to look almost like my twin.
      Thank you,
      Shannon Bennett


      • #4
        ProMED on Bird Flu in New Guinea (August 2006)

        A ProMED-mail post
        ProMED-mail is a program of the
        International Society for Infectious Diseases
        Date: Wed 9 Aug 2006
        From: Mary Marshall <>
        Source: The Jakarta Post, 9 Aug 2006 [abridged and edited]
        Source: The Jakarta Post, 9 Aug 2006 [abridged and edited]
        <A href="</a" target=_blank>"">HYPERLINK "</U>>
        Source: The Jakarta Post, 9 Aug 2006 [abridged and edited]
        Source: The Jakarta Post, 9 Aug 2006 [abridged and edited]

        Bird flu virus spreads to Papua
        The bird flu virus has now reached easternmost Papua after attacking
        poultry populations in Java and Sumatra in the western section of the
        country. [Papua is the eastern of the 2 provinces in Indonesia's
        Western New Guinea. Indonesia officially reported to the OIE, on 24
        Apr 2006, an outbreak in the other province within Western New
        Guinea, namely Irian Jawa Barat, to the northwest of Papua. This
        outbreak had started in March 2006, affecting "traditionally raised
        native chickens" in the Manokwari regency. See commentary below as
        well as archived post
        20060518.1398 and
        - Mod.AS]
        About 174 chickens are believed to have died of the H5N1 virus in
        Mimika regency as of 11 Jul 2006, while 414 others were culled due to
        suspected infection. [Map at <HTTP: westpapua1-png topic>].
        Based on a lab analysis from the Bogor Veterinary Research Center
        conducted on 19 Jul 2006, 3 of 37 birds tested were positive for
        H5N1, an official said Monday [7 Aug 2006].
        "Test results showed that 3 of the chickens contain the H5N1 virus;
        one of them was from SP3 Timika Jaya and 2 were from the traditional
        market," head of the Papua Husbandry Office AR Pintadewa told The
        Jakarta Post in Jayapura.
        According to Pintadewa, officers from the Mimika Husbandry Office
        received a report from a farmer in Sempan village, Timika, on 11 Jul
        2006 that his chickens were sick.
        They found 40 birds with H5N1 symptoms at the farm.
        Inspections of the traditional market also found many chickens with
        symptoms of the disease.
        "The place was immediately treated with disinfectant, and chickens
        showing clinical symptoms of infection with the virus were culled to
        prevent an outbreak ..."
        He said most vulnerable to the virus were the Indonesian Thai game
        variety, known locally as ayam Bangkok, that came from outside
        Timika. "We are still examining where they came from. The virus can
        be spread by air."
        To prevent the spread of the virus to other areas, Pintadewa said the
        Mimika regent issued a circular banning transportation of chickens
        out of the regency.
        [Byline: Nethy Dharma Somba and Apriadi Gunawan]
        [New Guinea, the world's 2nd largest island after Greenland, is
        politically divided into independent (east) and Indonesian (west)
        territories. The eastern, independent (since 1975) territory is Papua
        New Guinea; the western, Indonesian territory is divided (since 2003)
        into 2 provinces: West Irian Jaya and Papua; map at
        <HTTP: Indonesia_provinces_english.png db d commons wikipedia>.
        For additional geographical and political background on (Indonesian)
        Western New Guinea, see
        <HTTP: Western_New_Guinea wiki>.
        A WHO map, showing the massive spread of H5N1 in animals and humans
        throughout Indonesia -- including Western New Guinea -- is available at
        <HTTP: humans_and_poultry.gif map php eng>.
        - Mod.AS]
        [see also:
        Avian influenza (115) - Indonesia (Irian Jawa Barat)
        Avian influenza (113) - Egypt, Europe, Indonesia, Romania 20060517.1387]
        .................................................a rn/msp/jw