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Live poultry markets, improper medical treatment blamed for high fatalities in Indonesian bird flu patients
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07:47, February 01, 2008

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Poor management of live poultry markets and inappropriate medical treatment were the two main reasons why bird flu disease caused high fatalities in Indonesia, an Indonesian bird flu expert told Xinhua Thursday.

Of 124 patients contracted with bird flu disease in Indonesia since 2003, 101 have died so far.

High fatality rates in Indonesia, according to Prof. Widya Asmara, a member of experts panel for a committee to prevent bird flu pandemic, was not caused by the resistance of the H5N1 virus against medicine, but rather because most of the patients was latein getting appropriate medical treatment.

"Live bird markets are the place where the viruses gather. The virus could spread to everywhere. We found many viruses, including the floor of the cages," Asmara told Xinhua.

Should one chicken contracted with the virus be brought to the market, the virus would spread to other chickens, he said.

Most of patients, many of whom were traders rather than farmers, took inappropriate first medical help, he said. They only went to see a doctor, who might give wrong diagnoses.

"With the initial symptoms, the doctor usually thought that the patient suffered from a fever," the professor said.

They should go to a hospital which has better equipment and medicine, he said.

According to him, most of the bird flu patients in Indonesia got medical treatment in hospitals after being treated at small clinics or by doctors who operated at home or private places.

To prevent the prevalence of the bird flu disease, Asmara said, "the chicken farm must be restructured and the live bird market must be controlled."

The markets should stop operating at least for one day, to be disinfected so as to cut the life cycles of the virus, Asmara said.

Indonesian Minister of Agriculture Anton Apriantono told Xinhua on Thursday that orders had been reaffirmed to the head of provinces of Jakarta and neighboring Banten, where most of the bird flu cases occurred, to keep the cleanliness and hygiene of the live poultry markets in their territory.

He said that the government had made procedures to prevent the disease, but sometimes difficulties were on the level of implementation.

Source: Xinhua

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