Indonesia H5N1 hard hit or harder hit

There is no doubt Indonesia is the hardest hit country when it comes to the bird flu. When it comes to cooperation and sharing information and samples, Indonesia is somewhat resistant. This does leave people suspicious if they are hiding anything, particularly when they make announcements like the following.

Thirteen people from a village in Indonesia’s Sumatra island who were hospitalized this week after showing symptoms of bird flu have tested negative for the H5N1 virus, a health ministry official said on Saturday.

The 13, including a seven-year-old girl and an eight-month-old child, had developed fever after a large number of chickens died in Air Batu village in North Sumatra province.

“Test results were negative for all suspected cases,” said Nyoman Kandun, the health ministry’s director-general of communicable disease control.

Suspected cluster cases can raise concerns about rare human-to-human transmission or that the virus might have mutated into a form that can pass easily among people, triggering a pandemic.

Bird flu remains mainly an animal disease but experts fear the H5N1 virus might mutate into a pandemic strain that could sweep the globe, possibly killing millions and hobbling economies.

At least 243 of the 385 people known to be infected with bird flu have died since late 2003, according to the World Health Organization’s June 19 tally.

Indonesia reported last Sunday that a 19-year-old man died from bird flu, bringing the total death toll in the Southeast Asian country to 111, the highest of any nation.

This is not the first time a story fitting this template has found it’s way to the media. How can suddenly a whole bunch of people in close proximity to an outbreak have symptoms and then be declared not to have the H5N1 virus. Coupled with Indonesia not wanting to be open, does raise serious doubt as to the truthfulness of the story. We have already seen what happened in China when they went to cover over a story. The difference between China and Indonesia is China is heavy on manpower and can muster a lot of people quickly to deal with a problem.

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