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West Java Goes Own Way On Avian Flu Management

File photo: An Indonesian woman cleans chickens in a Jakarta market. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Kate Walker
London, UK (UPI) Oct 06, 2006
West Java, the Indonesian province worst-hit by avian influenza, has opted out of a government-backed special commission on public bird-flu education, saying it will instead focus its efforts on improving its existing bird-flu-prevention team. Yudi Prayudha, head of West Java's provincial health office, said the decision was taken as a means of improving the existing fight against avian influenza in the worst-hit province of the world's worst-hit country, the Jakarta Post reported.

"What is the use of a decree on the establishment of a special commission? What we need is to intensify our work in the field," Yudi said.

While officials from the ministries of health, agriculture and education, with support from provincial representatives, are currently meeting to outline the objectives and methodologies of the national commission, Yudi said that he was not interested in the meetings' outcomes, and that the more important task was to educate the public -- particularly schoolchildren -- about avian influenza and its dangers through aggressive campaigning.

Indonesia's doctors and nurses were failing to take the growing problem seriously, Yudi said.

"Just look at (bird flu victim IJ), who died at a private hospital without getting the necessary medication after being treated for four hours there," the Jakarta Post quoted Yudi as saying. IJ's brother died of avian influenza five days later, in hospital.

A key problem, Yudi told the Jakarta Post, was that the West Java local authorities had yet to allocate specific funds to treating local avian influenza infections.


Chicago pharmaceutical firm Baxter International Wednesday announced that early trials of its pandemic avian-influenza vaccine had shown positive results and indicated that the vaccine was both safe for widespread use and well-tolerated by subjects.

Clinical trials of the experimental vaccine, created using cell-based manufacturing techniques, were conducted on 270 healthy adult volunteers in Austria and Singapore and showed that the side effects were similar to those experienced by those taking the traditional seasonal influenza injection.

Noel Barrett, vice president of global research and development for Baxter's vaccines business, said in a statement: "This is the first clinical demonstration that a candidate H5N1 vaccine can induce antibodies that neutralize widely divergent strains of H5N1. These preliminary data, which must be confirmed in a larger study, suggest that the vaccine may provide wider protection for a larger number of people before and during a pandemic."

Further testing of the vaccine will take place next year.


According to a letter written to a British national newspaper by David Fedson, a retired professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, and signed by Susan Chu, editor of Web site, and Peter Dunnill, professor of biochemical engineering at University College London, cholesterol drugs could be used to stem the spread of an avian-influenza pandemic.

Statins, which are commonly used in cholesterol treatment, could be used to prevent the cytokine storms in the lungs that are an immune response effect of avian-influenza infection and are often the cause of death in bird-flu victims.

While Fedson and colleagues do not use the letter to promote statins as the final cure for avian influenza, they do assert that research into statin use should be more widely funded, as the drugs are already commonly available in most countries and can be prescribed at a low cost.

The letter reads: "Unlike vaccines and anti-virals, generic statins are available in almost all countries, and treating an individual patient would probably cost less than (1 pound) ($1.88).

"The pandemic might be imminent, yet nothing is being done by scientists and health officials to explore this idea. Why?"


The Philippines' Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Industry has warned that poultry smuggling may help spread avian influenza more quickly in a region that is currently struggling to keep the disease under control.

Of particular concern to Philippine officials is the fact that many of the birds smuggled into the island country come from North Sulawesi and Kalimantan, in Indonesia, the country worst-hit by outbreaks of avian influenza and with the highest human death toll.

Davinio Catbagan, director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, was quoted by All Headline News as saying: "It is the illegal trade that we fear that might spread the (avian flu) virus, not the migratory birds. We need all the help we can get."

Unlike many of its regional neighbors, the Philippines has not seen an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in more than three years. In an attempt to keep avian influenza out of the country, Philippine agricultural authorities have asked the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Ports Authority to be on high alert for signs of bird smuggling.

Source: United Press International

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