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Indonesia holds avian influenza expert consultation

The continuing avian influenza outbreak in Indonesia, involving both humans and animals, will be the focus of a three-day international consultation starting on Wednesday in Jakarta.

On 13 June, Indonesia's National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, known as Komnas FBPI, asked the World Health Organization (WHO) and other UN agencies to "urgently convene" an international consultation of experts to:

  • Review the status of the H5N1 virus in humans and animals
  • Provide recommendations to control the virus in both animals and humans
  • Review lessons learned for rapid response and containment, and
  • Provide an authoritative risk assessment of avian influenza in Indonesia in both human and animals.

"Indonesia's Ministry of Health has already demonstrated a great degree of transparency and collaboration since the first case appeared last year," said Dr. Paul Gully, a senior advisor for communicable diseases at the World Health Organization. "Indonesia has quickly acknowledged all cases publicly, teamed up with WHO for rapid field investigations, and provided virus isolates to the WHO H5 Reference Laboratory Network to enable monitoring of the evolution of the H5N1 virus. With this consultation, Indonesia is taking another step to assess how best to protect the health of its people. The results will certainly be of great importance to all worldwide, who are eyeing the risk of the next pandemic."

This consultation will bring together experts from Indonesia's Ministries of Health and of Agriculture, with those from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNICEF and experts from Airlangga University Surabaya, Udayana University Bali, Persahabatan Hospital, U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, France's Epicentre, Hong Kong University, NAMRU-2 laboratory and Japan's National Institute for Infectious Diseases.

Indonesia became the focus of international attention last month when the largest cluster of human H5N1 cases was identified. The outbreak involved eight members of a single family in Kubu Sembelang village, Karo District, of North Sumatra. Samples confirmed the presence of the virus in seven members of the family, and it is presumed that the initial case was also infected with H5N1. Seven of the eight family members died. The outbreak was considered controlled on June 12, three weeks after the death of the last case with no new cases reported.

The H5N1 virus is considered firmly entrenched in poultry throughout much of Indonesia, and this widespread presence of the virus has resulted in a significant number of human cases. This year alone, Indonesia has reported more than 33 cases with 27 deaths. Unless this situation is urgently addressed, sporadic human cases are likely and human-to-human transmission is possible.

Results from the expert consultation will be provided to Komnas FBPI on Friday, 23 June.

The initial presentations of the Jakarta meeting will be open to the media and there will be a concluding news conference on Friday.

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For more information contact:

Dick Thompson, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 2684
Mobile: +41 79 475 5475

Sari Setiogi, Jakarta
Telephone: +62 811 932 737
Mobile: +62 815 1351 3039