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Fourth H5N1 Bird Flu Death in Jakarta Indonesia?

Recombinomics Commentary

July 24, 2005

A Malaysian cook has died of suspected bird flu at a hospital in West Jakarta, a private television station reported Sunday, but doctors at the hospital denied the report.

Jakarta-based Metro TV reported that the Malaysian national died at the Graha Medika Gleneagles Hospital on July 17 and was cremated on July 21 on the outskirt of Jakarta.

The above report raises concerns about a cover-up of human bird cases in Indonesia.  The initial responses to the confirmed cases in Tangergang were not encouraging.  First the claim was made that the victims died of bacterial pneumonia.  Next came erroneous travel histories to India and Hong Kong followed by a reported trip to Hungary that happened last year.  Next came denials that the children were infected even though they had the same symptoms as their father who tested positive for H5N1.

The above report suggest the suspected case was cremated while the government was issuing denials about the familial cluster that appears to represent human-to-human transmission without an obvious source.  An infection of a chef is not unexpected.  Vietnam has reported H5N1 asymptomatic ducks and chickens while Indonesia has reported asymptomatic pigs in the suburbs of Jakarta.  As demonstrated by the H5N1 positive duck meat imported into South Korea from Shanghai in 2001 and by Japan from Shandong in 2003, infectious virus can survive food processing and handling uncooked foods can be dangerous.

More detail on the suspect death of the cook would be useful.

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