Indonesia H5N1
Death Toll Now Six

From Patricia Doyle, PhD Press
Indonesia's death toll from avian influenza has risen to 6, and the government has ordered more than a half-million tablets of anti-viral medicine to fight the disease, the Health Ministry announced Monday.
6 people have died and 10 others have been confirmed with the virus -- though some of them have not shown any of its usual flu-like symptoms, said I Nyoman Kandun, director general of Communicable Disease Control at the Health Ministry. He said that 34 people have been hospitalized with symptoms of avian influenza (H5N1 virus) across the country.
Health Minister Siti Fadila Supari said 200 000 tablets of the anti-viral drug oseltamivir, known commercially as Tamiflu, would be available Tuesday and another 200 000 tablets by Friday. Supari said that the medicine -- enough to treat 40 000 people at 10 tablets per person -- showed that the government had things "under control." Tamiflu is the only treatment so far proven effective against bird flu in humans.
It was unclear if the 6 dead included a woman who was suspected to have died of the disease on Monday [26 Sep 2005]. The 27-year-old woman had been treated for symptoms of the virus [infection] since last Thursday at the government-designated hospital for suspected bird flu cases, said Dr. Sardikin Giriputro. Giriputro, the hospital's deputy head, said initial tests at the hospital showed the patient had contracted bird flu, but that further tests would be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu has swept through poultry populations in large swaths of Asia since 2003, killing at least 65 people and resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of birds. Most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds. But the World Health Organization has warned that the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans -- possibly triggering a global pandemic that could kill millions.
The Australian government on Mon 26 Sep 2005 pledged to help Indonesia speed up its response to bird flu, saying it will donate enough anti-viral medicine to treat 40 000 people to its northern neighbor to help it cope with the illness. Canberra had previously pledged 10 000 courses of the medicine to Indonesia. "They have been caught a bit short to tell you the truth, and they're finding it difficult to handle," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters in Adelaide.
Medication distribution was moving "a little more slowly than we would have liked, but I think they're getting better organized now," he said. It was not immediately clear if the 600 000 doses announced by Indonesia included any of those pledged by Australia.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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