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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Indonesia's Bird Flu Scare

The Indonesian government has declared a "special situation" and is prepared to forcibly hospitalize those who are sick. This is due to an H5N1 outbreak. Three people (a father and two daughters) died in July. Then a customs worker died. Now at least one of her family appears to be sick. There are other people in the hospital after tests showed H5N1 infection in birds at a zoo and zoo workers who may also be sick from H5N1. The zoo has been closed.

It is impossible to tell at this time whether this is really a change in the virus or a change in monitoring. It's possible that they are just identifying cases now, but that similar cases were there all along. So don't assume yet that this is the beginning of the apocalypse. The first four cases were from at least the middle class which has better access to healthcare (and less contact with infected chickens). It seems likely that there would have been more human cases preceding those four that were unindentified.

I would recommend contacting your Congressional representatives and Senators again to ask what provisions have been made for our troops in Central Asia and Iraq. See this article about bird-flu infected cargo being admitted to Kuwait. Bribery and corruption, folks. Kuwait is right next to Iraq.

Good sources on this are Effect Measure, Recombinomics, and CurEvents.com. See in particular this Recombinomics commentary on the zoo-related cases:
In Indonesia, a 28-year-old guide and a 39-year-old vendor at a popular zoo in the capital were hospitalized Tuesday with symptoms of bird flu, said I Nyoman Kandun, director general of Communicable Disease Control.

The above description of the two people affiliated with the Ragunan Zoo who tested positive for H5N1 raise concerns about transmission. Media reports also describe the hospitalization of a 50 year-old zoo trader with a cough a breathing difficulties. Other reports have indicated that the two described above also have bird flu symptoms.

The symptoms in all three people indicates that the infections were recent and at about the same time, yet it is not clear why they would be more likely to be infected than those who have direct and daily contact with the animals and H5N1 positive birds at the zoo. More details on potential exposures by these three people would be useful as would interactions between these three people.
Of course, guides and vendors do come into contact with a lot of people. This might have nothing to do with the zoo but be related to human transmission. In Vietnam at least one healthcare worker did contract bird flu. There are now several children who have been hospitalized in Indonesia.

Of a dire sort. Whatever this really is, it is not encouraging.
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