Ministry suspects new human bird flu case
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
After recently confirming the country's fourth bird flu fatality, the Ministry of Health reported another suspected case on Saturday.
MT, a seven-year-old girl, currently being treated at the Sulianti Saroso hospital in North Jakarta, tested positive on her blood test, but negative
on the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, said Minister of Health Siti Fadilah Supari as quoted by news portal detik.com.
The minister nor other senior officials of the ministry could be immediately reached for confirmation.
The girl was previously treated at the Siloam Gleneagles hospital in Tangerang and was referred to Saroso on Sept. 14. The ministry was still waiting
for the results of a second PCR test.
It was also investigating another suspected case, identified only as a family member of Rini Dina, the country's most recent confirmed bird flu
fatality. The relative tested positive on the blood test and is currently suffering from flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and sore throat, which are
also symptoms consistent with early stages of avian influenza.
"We are taking the patient to a hospital for observation as soon as the family approves," she said.
Siti added that there was a high possibility of other suspected cases and that the public must be vigilant against the spread of the disease. She
declared that the country was already in the "third stage of bird flu" and although there had not been any reports of human-to-human transfer of the
virus, she added that "it is just a matter of time."
The ministry has prepared 44 hospitals nationwide to handle suspected and reported cases as well as for surveillance efforts.
It is also bringing in some 10,000 doses of bird flu medicine called Tami Flu, which is recommended by the World Health Organization. "We are
negotiating with Roche, the Food and Drug Control Agency and WHO to recommend importing the medicine," Siti said.
Given to patients showing clinical symptoms of flu in the first 48 hours, Tami Flu is believed to have been able to mitigate the effects of the virus.
"But, if it is given when the patient is already suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms, it will not work," she said.
Indonesia saw its first human fatality in July this year, when the virus killed Iwan Siswara Rafei and his two young daughters. On Friday, WHO
confirmed that Rina, who died last weekend, had been infected by bird flu.
Stay tuned...this might be the "ground zero" country.