Bird Flu Claims Two Lives

Bird flu has claimed its first human victims in Bali this year, with two children dying of the disease at the weekend.

The children, a 10-year-old boy identified as WA and his five-year-old sister, NR, were from Banjar Dinas Antuga in Jehem, Bangli.  Both were brought to Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar on Friday suffering from severe flu-like symptoms.

“Both of them had avian flu symptoms including fever, difficulty breathing and lung infections. They tested positive for the disease based on our initial checks,” said Anak Agung Jaya Kusuma, the hospital’s medical director, adding that they had been previously treated for pneumonia at the main hospital in Bangli but were transferred to Sanglah when their condition continued to deteriorate.

They were treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit and given the anti-flu Tamiflu drug, but both children died on Sunday night.

It has been revealed that the children had been in contact with dead chickens in their home village shortly before they fell ill.

Putu Sumantra of the Bali Animal Husbandry Department said officials had visited the affected community to conduct tests and sterilisation, but he said they had so far failed to identify the specific source of the infection.

“We have tested several dead chickens, and people said to have had contact with them, but they tested negative for avian flu,” he said. “We have sterilised the whole area and surrounding locations and asked people to report when they find a dead chicken.”

Elsewhere, a significant number of bird flu cases among poultry have been recorded in Jembrana in recent weeks.

Hundreds of chickens reportedly died in Yeh Mekecir in Dangintukadaya Village in the last 10 days.

According to local residents the chickens fell ill suddenly and died overnight and were disposed of locally.

Sumantra said his department was aware of the reports from Jembrana.

The last significant incidence of bird flu among poultry was last March, when at least 80 chickens tested positive for the disease in Badung, Tabanan and Denpasar.

The disease can occasional spread to humans who have close contact with the infected birds. Since 2007 a total of 46 people have been treated for bird flu at Sanglah, including two patients who died of the disease.

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