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Monitoring Tsunami-Driven Flu in Indonesia

Recombinomics Commentary

January 1, 2005

Tsunami-related deaths in Indonesia could top 100,000.  However, the displacement of people and animals may create ripe conditions for the spread of bird flu (H5N1 avian influenza).  Indonesia reported poultry cases at the beginning of last year.  However, many of the Indonesian isolates were collected in 2003, A/Ck/Indonesia/2A/2003(H5N1), A/Ck/Indonesia/BL/2003(H5N1), A/Ck/Indonesia/PA/2003(H5N1).

Recent outbreaks have been reported more recently near Jakarta and more recently near Mataram. Mataram is near Indonesia's most densely populated poultry farms, so more spread was expected prior to the tsunami.

The have been no reported human H5N1 cases in Indonesia, but there are a few polymorphisms shared by Indonesia and isolates from Thailand  and Vietnam from last season, so there may be more changes this season.

Overcrowding and taxed medical facilities will increase the likelihood of undetected spread, and close monitoring of residents, tourists, and relief workers would be prudent,  Flu season is beginning and recent H5N1 outbreaks have also been reported in Thailand (Thung Saliem district) and  Vietnam, including one case that is in critical condition on a respirator.

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