Emergencies preparedness, response

Avian influenza – situation in Indonesia – update 18

6 June 2006

The Ministry of Health in Indonesia has confirmed the country’s 49th case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

The case occurred in a 15-year-old boy from Tasikmalaya District, West Java Province. He developed symptoms on 24 May, was hospitalized on 26 May, and died on 30 May.

An investigation conducted by provincial health authorities found a history of contact with sick and dying chickens in the boy’s household in the week before the onset of his symptoms. Monitoring of family members and close contacts has detected no cases of influenza-like illness.

Of the 49 cases confirmed to date in Indonesia, 37 have been fatal.

The H5N1 virus is considered firmly entrenched in poultry throughout much of Indonesia. Unless this situation is urgently and comprehensively addressed, sporadic human cases will continue to occur.

The newly confirmed case is one of several where exposure occurred despite a clear signal of a high-risk situation arising from poultry deaths. Pending better control of the disease in animals, WHO and officials in the Ministry of Health see an urgent need to improve public awareness of this disease, the risk factors for infection, and the behaviours that should be avoided.