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Tamiflu distributed to stem spread of bird flu

2,100 people in the West Java district of Garut will receive the bird flu drug Tamiflu, in an attempt by the Indonesian government to stem the tide of bird flu infections in the area.

Three people in Garut, in the remote subdistrict of Cikelet, are confirmed to have been infected with the avian influenza virus. The latest case occurred in a 35-year-old woman who was hospitalised with severe respiratory disease on 17 August and died shortly after admission.

The distribution of Tamiflu started on Monday as part of the campaign to increase public awareness of the deadly H5N1 virus, which has now killed 46 people in the country.

Fatimah Resmiati, spokeswoman from West Java environmental health office of the Health Ministry, was quoted as saying that the government had also distributed 200 books about bird flu to elementary school children.

A team of experts is presently in the Cikelet subdistrict investigating the outbreak and monitoring for further cases. Three hamlets are the focus of investigation. There has been speculation that this could be another cluster case, but the WHO suspects that each case began with individual contact with infected birds.

In the Cikelet subdistrict, mortality from endemic diseases, especially malaria, is common, access to health care is poor, and medical records of deaths are scanty or non-existent.

As the population had no experience with this disease, high-risk behaviours commonly occurred during the disposal of carcasses or the preparation of sick or dead birds for consumption. These exposures are, at present, thought to be the source of infection for most confirmed or suspected cases.

Editor WorldPoultry

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