Monday, August 13, 2007

Tick, Tick, Tick – Bird Flu Brings Bali "Low"

The Bali Starling lives only on Bali. As few as six may exist in the wild. Image Credit: Adrian Pingstone in January 2005

Tick, Tick, Tick – Bird Flu Brings Bali "Low"

Indonesia has become the country to watch as it relates to bird flu crossover deaths. Human infection and deaths attributed to Avian Flu virus contracted directly from the raising of birds for food have now claimed 82 victims … the most of any country in the world.

If this virus mutates to where it can be transferred from human to human, the health of the world will be in jeopardy through a pandemic that will have little in the way of vaccines and other tools to counter this threat from the world health community.

If this virus is able to make the crossover from bird - human transmission to human - human transmission, forget the war on terror created by radical Muslim Islamists … a pandemic will become the greatest threat to human life and stability in this world as we know it.

Funny how this threat, Avian Flu crossover, happens to be at its worse in a primarily Muslim believing country (Bali is managed as part of Indonesia while primarily believing in Hindi traditions in religion). One has to ask – What is wrong with these societies and infrastructures that would allow this threat to world health to approach a tipping point? It may be just a coincidence but the world needs answers and a clear counter strategy to combat this potential pandemic.

Excerpts from Forbes via The Sydney Morning Herald -

Bali bird flu deaths spark tourism fears
By Kate Benson and Mark Forbes in Jakarta - August 14, 2007

AUSTRALIAN health officials are on alert after a deadly outbreak of bird flu on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali.

The finding is another blow to Indonesia's tourism industry, still struggling to recover from the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings.

Ni Luh Putu Sri Windiani, from north-western Bali, became the island's first human victim of bird flu after she died of multiple organ failure on Sunday.

Doctors at the Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar confirmed last night that the 29-year-old Indonesian woman had tested positive to the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Ms Windiani's daughter, Dian, 5, died suffering from similar symptoms at the same hospital 11 days ago after playing with sick chickens outside their house, but experts are unable to determine if she had bird flu.

It is also unclear whether Ms Windiani contracted bird flu from the chickens or from her daughter. She started showing symptoms more than a week ago, but was admitted to hospital six days later. She was transferred to Denpasar on Friday and treated in the isolation unit.

Australian officials said they were closely monitoring the investigation into the deaths.
Australia's travel advisory already warns of the risk of bird flu in Indonesia, but states the danger to short-term visitors is relatively low.

A spokesman from the Bird Flu Information Centre in Jakarta, Joko Suyono, said many chickens around Ms Windiani's house had died suddenly in recent weeks.

"The villagers didn't burn the carcasses. Instead, they buried them or fed them to pigs," he said.

The deputy director of the World Health Organisation's Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, Ian Barr, said yesterday there was no need to panic.

"Most of these cases occur in villages, not in downtown Kuta or Denpasar, so I'm not sure that travellers should be too concerned."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Ageing, Kay McNiece, said travellers to any bird flu-affected country should steer clear of birds and should practise good hygiene.
Indonesia reported its first human bird flu case in July 2005.
Twenty-one Indonesians diagnosed with the disease have survived.
Reference Here>>

We, at MAXINE, become very concerned when officials are "unclear whether Ms Windiani contracted bird flu from the chickens or from her daughter".
We think it is high time that officials in Bali (and Indonesia) become CLEAR as to the source of this latest death due to Avian flu infection and not be so worried about how this might effect tourism.

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