WHO confident Bali outbreak can be contained. | Connect Asia

WHO confident Bali outbreak can be contained.

WHO confident Bali outbreak can be contained.

Updated 23 March 2012, 0:05 AEDT

The World Health Organisation says it's confident the first reported death from bird flu on the Indonesian island of Bali will not lead to a widespread outbreak there.

Indonesian authorities have confirmed the cause of death of a Balinese woman was the deadly H5N1 virus.

SNOWDON: Tests have confirmed a 29-year-old mother died from the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu on Bali.

She'd been looking after her five year old daughter who died a week ago but was cremated before tests could confirm whether she had been infected.

Bayu Krisnamurti is the chairman of Indonesia's National Bird Flu Centre.

MURTI: There are history with contact with chicken and until now the virus is still chicken virus that had infected a human.

SNOWDON: Bayu Krishnamurti was on his way to Bali to oversee efforts to contain the outbreak which will include officers from the World Health Organisation.

The WHO's Director for Indonesia, Dr Subhash Salunke, says it's not possible to conclude the mother contracted the virus directly from her daughter, which would make it a human to human transmission.

SALUNKE: I think we cannot draw the conclusion because there are a lot of gaps in the epidemiological investigations.

SNOWDON: So it's not clear and it's not possible to say that this is a human to human transmission?

SALUNKE: Absolutely right, this cannot be the conclusion.

SNOWDON: Indonesian authorities believe that the possible transmission to the mother, who has been confirmed to have died from the bird flu virus, the transmission might have been via pig meat, the pigs having been fed carcasses of chickens who were perhaps sick with the bird flu virus. If that is true does this indicate that a lot of education still needs to be improved in Indonesia about these health issues relating to bird flu and human contact with chickens?

SALUNKE: Oh yes, yes not only in Indonesia, all over the world I agree that we need to continuously go on making efforts to educate people.

SNOWDON: It seems to be failing in Indonesia though it must be said. Take Vietnam for example, it previously had the most serious record for human-bird flu death, but it was able to activate local educators and local health workers very, very effectively. Why not in Indonesia?

SALUNKE: I would like to also point out that this archipelago has 15-thousand plus islands and the communication difficulties have to be taken into consideration. However these cannot be excused, we certainly feel both the government of Indonesia and the WHO feel that intensive effort be continued for health education.

SNOWDON: The World Health Organisation and Indonesia are locked in disagreement over the refusal of the government to release bid flu samples to researchers.

The WHO says it needs the samples to keep track of any mutations that might lead to a deadlier pandemic strain of bird flu.

Jakarta says it wants guarantees of affordable medicine in return for its cooperation. Last week, the WHO accused Indonesia of putting the world at risk by failing to share its samples.

Dr Salunke says he's confident of a breakthrough in talks soon.

SNOWDON: What makes you confident?

SALUNKE: I feel because Indonesian authorities are fully aware of what the implications of ...

SNOWDON: Do you think the Bali situation can be contained?

SALUNKE: I think so, I think so because Indonesia has already contained (the situation) in the past, and it is not something which is beyond their capacity, and I'm sure Indonesia will be able to contain this.

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