Afamily of four in Indramayu, West Java, that developed influenza-like symptoms after being in direct contact with sick poultry have been declared possible bird flu carriers.
Parents Duljani and Carsiah and daughters Cinta and Dewi were admitted to the health clinic in Bongas subdistrict in Indramayu shortly after they complained of coughs, fever and abdominal pain.
The Health Ministry’s director general of disease control and environmental health, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said the four patients were later transferred to Indramayu General Hospital’s isolation ward for further testing and medical treatment.
“The hospital has performed all the necessary procedures needed to treat bird flu patients,” he said.
Tjandra said his ministry did not suspect that the family suffered from a mutated form of the H5N1 virus that could be transmitted from human to human. He said such a mutation would only be suspected if the victim did not have any contact at all with sick poultry and was infected by someone who brought the virus from elsewhere. “Since the family lives together, near sick poultry, it’s not unusual that they would start to develop the same symptoms, but we will keep monitoring developments in the case,” he said.
Dozens of chickens near Duljani’s house died suddenly and the case was immediately reported by him to the local animal husbandry agency. Based on the rapid test conducted by the agency, the chickens were found to be carrying the H5N1 virus.
Tjandra said that his ministry has taken specimens from all of the patients. The samples are being tested in a laboratory in Jakarta.
“We will find out the results soon,” he said.
Tjandra said all four of the patients were in relatively good condition and their influenza symptoms were not severe.
“We are hopeful that they are not infected with bird flu because patients’ white blood cell counts usually decline rapidly, but theirs are increasing,” he said.
In February, a 26-year-old man, identified only as M, from Kerawang, West Java, died shortly after developing influenza-like symptoms. Before he fell sick, M went to a local market to buy a chicken. He also frequently visited his parents’ house in Subang, an endemic area for the illness. The Health Ministry confirmed he was carrying H5N1.