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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Indonesia Rehearses For Potential Bird Flu Pandemic


Indonesia is running their first massive rehearsal drill for a potential pandemic of Avian Flu aka Bird Flu. They are doing this to see how prepared they would be should the bird flu start to spread from human to human.
With the recent news that there has been troubling mutations in the avian flu virus as well as a short list of examples of the virus spreading from human to human within a family, Indonesia is conducting a drill which started Friday, April 25, 2008 and will run for three days.

This large scale simulation, called the National Pandemic Preparedness Plan, will include thousands of villagers, health workers, military and government officials, equaling approximately 5,000 people that will take part in this drill.

Subhash Salunke from the World Health Organization (WHO) tells Associated Press reporters, "This is a very important event from the perspective of public health. It will certainly help better equip Indonesia in the event of a pandemic. But other countries struggling to contain bird flu outbreaks can and will learn from this exercise as well."

On the 17th of April, the WHO updated the worldwide and country by country figures, showing a total of 381 cases and 240 deaths, with 132 cases and 107 deaths in Indonesia. Viet Nam is the next highest, with 106 cases and 52 deaths reported.

Health experts in Indonesia estimate that up to 60 million Indonesians will become infected if the virus starts to spread from human to human.

The simulation started with one man going to the village clinic with symptoms of the avian flu virus and from there the simulation continues with what they call "reasonable assumptions", starting with the assumption that the man caught the virus from contact with an infected bird.

They question the man, find out there was no contact with sick or dead birds, then jump straight to the possibility it was spread from human to human. They proceed to trace the virus to another man in the village which has officials seal off the village and launch containment procedures which include chickens and ducks and isolating any other humans who may be infected.

The scenario then leads them to attempt to stop any potentially infected persons from airline travel by using thermal scans on all people entering and leaving the airport and will spray their vehicles with disinfectant.

You can find out more about the Avian flu from the World Health Organization's Avian Flu page.