Indonesia launched a bird flu awareness campaign on Wednesday in a bid to stop the rapid increasing of bird flu cases in the country.
The Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari asked the people to watch out for the avian influenza (AI) virus by avoiding direct contact with poultry and keeping poultry out of their homes.
"The number of bird flu patients has increased rapidly in Indonesia, and in Medan, the largest bird flu patient cluster has been found recently. Laboratory-check results show that they were infected with the avian influenza virus from poultry. Therefore, poultry must be kept separate from human being," said the minister.
She cited Vietnam as an example, saying that Vietnam had been able to stop the spread of bird flu virus infection after the country freed its areas from poultry for six months.
However, she said that Indonesia would not be able to follow Vietnam's example because it was a high-cost policy.
She hoped that the community would help the government control the bird flu virus by protecting themselves from direct contact with chicken and other poultry.
"If there is a sudden death of poultry, the people must immediately report it, and so if somebody gets symptoms of bird flu disease, he or she must be rushed to the hospital immediately, " she said.
Since July 2005, some 50 human-infected bird flu cases were found in Indonesia, and 37 of them had died of the disease.
The number of fatality tends to increase, and it worries not only Indonesia but also the world's community, she said.
The minister said that the government's efforts to eradicate the bird flu virus would not be successful without the cooperation of the community.