Flu Indonesia says has suspected flu cases in children

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by Quigley_Sharps, Nov 3, 2005.


  1. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three Indonesian children are suspected to be the latest victims of bird flu, which the Asian Development Bank said on Thursday could trigger a global recession if a pandemic breaks out.



    Underlining the increasing urgency in tackling the H5N1 avian flu virus, the United States and China announced new efforts to fight a possible pandemic, including $500 million to monitor the virus in poultry.

    Five Southeast Asian nations also said they would boost cooperation to fight the virus, which has killed 62 people in Asia and infected 122 since late 2003. The disease has since spread to Europe and it is feared migratory birds could carry it to Africa.

    The ADB said a year-long shock from bird flu in humans would cost Asian economies as much as $283 billion and would reduce the region's gross domestic product by 6.5 percentage points, hitting the trading hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore the hardest.

    " Avian flu presents a major potential challenge to the development of the region, perhaps the most serious since the financial crisis of 1997," said the Manila-based ADB.

    "A pandemic will likely slow or halt economic growth in Asia and lead to a significant reduction in trade, particularly of services. In the long run, potential economic growth will be lower and poverty will increase."

    The World Bank, in its twice-yearly report on East Asia's economies, said on Thursday avian flu was a big risk to growth in 2006 due to potential policy actions such as quarantines and travel restrictions.

    In Indonesia, where four people have died of bird flu since July, Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said three children, all under the age of 5, had high fever, shortness of breath and signs of viral infection.

    Asked by a reporter whether test results had been received, Supari said: "Not yet, maybe in two or three days hopefully, because this is a holiday, but looking at the symptoms ... there's a large possibility that it is bird flu."

    In Vietnam, the country hardest hit by the virus, a senior health official ruled out bird flu as the cause of last week's deaths of two people, state newspapers said.

    But they said a 25-year-old woman was in hospital with suspected bird flu.

    Hospital officials had told Reuters a 14-year-old girl and a 26-year-old man who died last week had symptoms of bird flu.

    Doctors have said they did not do any tests and it was unclear how officials ruled out bird flu as the cause of death.

    Bird flu has infected more than 90 people in Vietnam and 41 have died since the latest outbreak in Asia began in late 2003. Experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily passed between people and unleash a pandemic.

    WINTER THREAT

    The World Health Organization says H5N1 is now endemic in many poultry flocks in the region.

    Experts say the disease must be controlled in poultry in Asia where farmers and livestock live side-by-side. This increases the risks of more people becoming infected and the chances of a mutation that could allow H5N1 to pass easily among humans.

    Health officials expect more avian flu cases during the coming winter, when influenza viruses seem to thrive.

    Scientists say this is because viruses survive better in cooler and wetter environments and people crowd together in the festive season, creating the perfect setting for viruses to proliferate.

    ""With higher levels of stress, that assists the virus to take hold and reduces our ability to fight it off in the first instance so our first barriers to infection are easily overcome," said Alan Hampson, an influenza expert and former deputy director of the WHO's Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne.

    In the Thai capital, the prime ministers of Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos signed a "partnership" pact to provide training in surveillance and set up monitoring systems to contain outbreaks.

    But the leaders noted their countries, some of them poor with only rudimentary health and monitoring systems, would need the help of international agencies and donor countries.

    Washington has said it will allocate $251 million to help detect and contain outbreaks in affected areas before they spread. It includes cash for testing an experimental H5N1 vaccine in Vietnam and support in helping countries develop their own plans. The money is part of a $7.1 billion bird flu action plan announced by the White House.

    China, which has billions of chickens and ducks, has said it will set aside 2 billion yuan from this year's fiscal budget to prevent the spread of bird flu.

    (Additional reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan in Bangkok, John O'Callaghan in Manila, Ho Binh Minh in Hanoi, Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong and Maggie Fox in Washington)
     
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