Indonesian Doctor Treated
For Suspected Bird Flu

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- A doctor who had been treating a 15-year-old boy who died from bird flu is being treated in an isolation ward after developing symptoms of the disease, a hospital official said on Friday.
The doctor had treated the boy, from Indramayu in West Java, at a hospital in Bandung. The boy died on March 25 from the H5N1 virus, the official said.
"He is in an isolation room, doing fine. He has been suffering from a sore throat, fever and some respiratory problems. However, he wore a complete protection suit when dealing with a bird flu patient last week," Doctor Yusuf Hadi, the head of the bird flu department at Hasan Sadikin hospital in Bandung, said by telephone.
"Two or three days after having contact with the boy, he suffered from fever. But now, he is OK, he does not have fever anymore. He has been treated as a bird flu suspect together with a woman and two children."
Test results for the four were pending.
Indonesia announced five more deaths from bird flu this week, taking the confirmed human death toll from the H5N1 virus to 71, the highest in the world.
The head of the Indonesian agency in charge of fighting bird flu said later on Friday the government should be allowed to conduct an autopsy on all H5N1 victims.
"The virus enters through the lungs causing pneumonia but the loss of life comes from multi-organ failure. This needs further studying so it is better to perform an autopsy on the dead victims," said Bayu Krishnamurthi, adding most Indonesian bird flu deaths suffered from multi-organ failure.
"We will make this recommendation because there are so many questions that have not yet been answered on bird flu," he told reporters.
At present, autopsies are conducted rarely on bird flu victims in Indonesia, in part because of the Islamic custom for corpses to be buried before sunset the day after death.
The virus is endemic among fowl in many parts of Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country. Human cases generally involve contact with infected birds.
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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