January 28, 2004

 

 

Indonesia Reports Suspect Human Bird Flu Case

 

Health authorities on Indonesia's resort island of Bali have reported a suspected case of bird flu in a 3-year-old boy whose mother works on a chicken farm.

                       

The boy's blood samples had been sent to Jakarta for testing, the Jakarta Post said, citing a spokesman for Bali's health agency. He said the boy had suffered from flu-like symptoms for the past two weeks.

 

If test results confirm the disease, it would be Indonesia's first case of the avian influenza crossing to humans from infected birds.

 

Ten Asian governments so far have reported outbreaks in poultry stocks.

 

The World Health Organization said Tuesday there was a good chance of keeping the disease from taking root in the human population, saying it was encouraged by the small number of human cases, even though the virus may have been circulating in birds for some time.

 

The Indonesian government's announcement on Sunday that bird flu was rampant in several parts of the country, including Bali, sparked accusations of a cover-up after a team of agricultural experts said they alerted authorities in December to the disease.

 

Although millions of chickens have died since August, Jakarta insisted there was no bird flu in Indonesia, attributing the deaths to another ailment not dangerous to humans.

 

Bali is Indonesia's premier tourist destination. The industry was hit hard by the 2002 terrorist bombings of two nightclubs in which 202 people died, the Iraq war, and last year's outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

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