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Fourth Confirmed H5N1 Case in Jakarta Causes Concerns

Recombinomics Commentary

September 16, 2005

"It's positive for H5N1," I Nyoman Kandun, director-general of disease control at the Health Ministry, told Reuters, referring to the virus.

Indonesia's health minister is expected to hold a news conference later on Friday to discuss the results, which had been confirmed by a laboratory in Hong Kong.

"Our task now as the government is to make sure the public do not panic. Just like when we get a bomb threat, we need to avoid panic. Up until now, there is no proof that there is human-to-human transfer," Kandun said.

The above comments on Indonesia's fourth confirmed H5N1 death raises more questions about unreported deaths.  Government announcements regarding H5N1 bird flu have frequently been misleading.  The earlier fatal cluster was initial said to be caused by bacterial pneumonia.  The travel history of the decease was misreported twice and the lab data reports were inconsistent.

Testing of birds and pigs in the area was minimal, yet a large number of positive were found, indicating H5N1 is widespread in the region.

H5N1 in two families in the same region southwest of Jakarta also raise concerns.  Both families had a fatality in an office worker for the government.  The location suggest on environmental source, yet it seems that others would be at higher risk than office workers.

An example was an infant who died from pneumonia.  The family lived above a slaughterhouse and a slaughterhouse was 100 meters from the most recent fatality.

It seems likely that the number of unreported and upcoming H5N1 cases is large.

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