Saturday, May 19, 2007

City confirms 19th death from bird flu

Saturday, March 17, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Laboratory tests have confirmed that a man who was being treated at a Jakarta hospital died Thursday of the H5N1 virus, an official confirmed Friday.

"He died on March 15 at Persahabatan Hospital," said I Nyoman Kandun, the Health Ministry's director general for disease control and environmental health.

The man's death brings the human bird flu death toll in the country to 65 out of 86 cases confirmed in the past two years.

The 32-year-old was a resident of Pondok Kelapa in East Jakarta. He fell sick on March 11, Kandun added.

He was admitted to Harum Hospital in East Jakarta on March 13, before being referred to Persahabatan Hospital the day after.

He is the 19th person to have died of avian flu in the city.

The ministry has yet to conclude how the man contracted the deadly virus.

In urban areas, people tend to be more mobile, making it difficult to look at all the circumstances surrounding bird flu cases.

"According to our records, the man had a pet parrot. But it has yet to be checked," Achmad Prihatna of the ministry's avian flu information center said.

A gubernatorial regulation issued in January requires residents to obtain a health certificate for their birds from the Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Agency.

The center could not say whether a certificate had been issued for the man's parrot.

Inspections of backyard poultry and pet birds started again Friday after stopping due to the floods in the city last month.

"We are giving residents two weeks to get their birds out of residential areas or apply for a health certificate," Governor Sutiyoso said Friday.

However, the regulation does not carry sanctions, he said.

"We are urging the City Council to ratify the bylaw on bird flu, because it would make it easier to take legal action," he said.

Agency head Edy Setyarto said the fact that people tried to hide their poultry and pet birds made it difficult to ensure that birds in the city were free from disease.

As of Friday, the agency had issued 3,595 health certificates, 50 percent higher than the Jakarta administration's estimation of the pet bird population in the city.

Currently, Jakarta is the only province that has moved to keep poultry away from residential areas, a process many have said will take time.

Backyard farming and keeping birds as pets is part of Indonesian culture, even in urban areas.

Although until today it has not been concluded how humans contract H5N1 from poultry, keeping them out of the home is currently the most effective way to minimize the risk.

Aside from that, people are encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water for 10 seconds after contact with birds, eat only eggs and poultry that have been cooked through and see a doctor if they have symptoms of the disease.(02)

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