I have been reading the Disease Outbreak News from the World Health Organization’s Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response group for the past while. Like today’s Avian influenza situation in Indonesia — update.
With all the “we’re all going to die” media hype surrounding avian flu, I find the style of the WHO bulletins pleasingly straightforward. Not that their contents are pleasing. Indeed, absent of hype as they are, the simple stories are starkly depressing:
The first patient was a 13-year-old girl. She developed symptoms on 6 January, was hospitalized on 12 January, and died on 14 January. The second patient was her four-year-old brother. He developed symptoms on 8 January, was hospitalized on 14 January, and died on 17 January.
Two other family members, a 14-year-old sister and the 43-year-old father, remain hospitalized with respiratory symptoms. The sister was hospitalized on 14 January and the father on 17 January. Samples from these cases are being tested to determine whether they were also infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus.
Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health and WHO found evidence of a large poultry outbreak in the familys neighbourhood. Chickens kept by the family began to die three days before the first patient developed symptoms. All family members had close contact with the diseased chickens and assisted in the removal of dead birds.