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Fatal Suspect H5N1 Case In Tangerang Indonesia
Recombinomics Commentary 12:45
January 25, 2012

Patient suspect bird flu, Rohmat (18), resident of RT 09/03, Ciodeng Village, Village Blooms Jaya, District Panongan, Tangerang regency, died after being treated for five days in critical condition in RSU Tangerang District, on Wednesday.

Previously the patient's condition was critical since it first entered isolation space bird flu," said Public Relations RSU Tangerang Regency Ahmad Muchlis when confirmed on her cell phone. According Muchlis, until now is still not clear whether Rohmat died from bird flu or not. "There is no certainty. But the results of observations in the home environment Rohmat by the Health Department yesterday was negative bird flu," he said. He added that the next will Rohmat shrouded corpse in the mortuary. Chances are, he said, Rohmat not take home to his family home. "The possibility is not taken home, but immediately buried," explained Muchlis.

The above translation describes the death of a suspect H5N1 case (18M) in Tangerang, Indonesia, which is on the northwest side of Jakarta.  The death follows a confirmed H5N1 cluster in North Jakarta, as well as suspect fatal cases in Cengkareng, which is adjacent to Tangerang, as well as Bekasi, which is on the east sided of Jakarta. 

Although the three most recent cases have not been H5N1 confirmed, the second case (5F)  in the North Jakarta cluster tested negative multiple times before H5N1 confirmation at autopsy, raising concerns about the sensitivity of the H5N1 for the bird flu currently circulating in Indonesia.
False negatives in Indonesia are common because patients are tested after the start of Tamiflu treatment, which lowers the RNA level.  Patient who recover continue to test negative and are not reported as confirmed cases, while those who die have increasing H5N1 RNA levels, which eventually test positive.  This testing procedure accounts in part for the high case fatality rate, which ha been near 80% in Indonesia since the first confirmed cases were reported in 2005.

However, at least two the three cases adjacent to Jakarta have tested negative, even though the patients have died with H5N1 symptoms, and have been quickly buried, per protocol for confirmed H5N1 cases.
These recent fatalities and the failure to link the cases to infected poultry, has raised concerns that the H5N1 in Indonesia is being transmitted more efficiently, as seen in the confirmed cluster in North Jakarta as well as the Bali cluster.

Sequences from the Bali cluster included receptor binding domain changes (D187N, A188G, R193M), as well a clear examples of recombination.  Moreover, these chnages are likely to lead to immunological escape.

Release of sequences from the North Jakarta cluster would be useful.

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