Indonesian bird flu cases 'far from pandemic'

(Nov. 9) Jakarta - Indonesia, which has the highest number of human bird flu infections and fatalities, was unlikely to be hit by a pandemic of the disease in the immediate future, an official has claimed.

"We are still far from a pandemic," said Bayu Krisnamurthi, the chief executive of the Indonesian National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (Komnas FBPI).

However, he cautioned the possibility of a pandemic remained, as no one could predict how the H5N1 virus that caused the disease would mutate.

The Komnas FBPI, set up by presidential decree in March, coordinates government responses to H5N1 bird flu cases, which experts fear could mutate into a form that spreads easily between humans, setting off a global pandemic.

The vast majority of bird flu cases in Indonesia and elsewhere have occurred after contact with infected poultry.

Indonesia now has 72 confirmed cases of human bird flu infection, 55 of them fatal.

But Krisnamurthi said the ratio of confirmed cases compared to reported suspect cases was decreasing, from about 30 to 35 percent six months ago to currently about 14 percent.

He said although bird flu had been found in 30 of the country's 32 provinces, human infections were contained to nine provinces.

He said the ratio between confirmed cases and fatalities remained largely unchanged at about 75 percent, due to late treatment following late diagnosis, and limited health facilities. - Sapa-AFP


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