Bird Flu Build-up in Indonesia

While the current resurgence of bird flu in Indonesia and elsewhere is largely seasonal and somewhat to be expected, the statistics are still harrowing. Here is the latest data from Indonesia:

Cases: 79
Deaths: 61


  1. The WSJ has a page listing deaths from avian flu worldwide, including the suspected cause of transmission.
    Basically all of the deaths result from someone being in close proximity to sick domesticated birds, such as chickens and ducks.
    Anyone who keeps or handles chickens should be aware of this.

  2. When looking at such statistics, keep in mind that many nonfatal or downright mild cases just won’t be reported. So the real fatality rate might be small.
    Here’s a relevant excerpt from Wendy Orent’s September 05 article in The New Republic, “Chicken Little: We’ll Survive the Bird flu”:

    One problem, though, is that we don’t actually know h5n1’s true mortality rate. We have no idea how many people in Asia contracted h5n1, came down with a mild infection, and became immune. Research from 1992 has shown that Asian chicken farmers have antibodies to many different forms of the H protein, including H5, in their blood. That’s not uncommon: according to University of Ottawa molecular virologist Earl Brown, chicken farmers in North America have antibodies to bird flu strains.

    And, in Asia, there are millions of chicken farmers. Prince of Songkla University physicist Sikke Hempenius, a close observer of the outbreak, points out that there are two million in Thailand alone. There are also the many abattoir women who slaughter poultry. There have been billions of chicken/human interactions over the past two years. According to Hempenius, there hasn’t been a single case of h5n1 flu among chicken farmers or abattoir women in Thailand. Have they been exposed to the disease? How could they not be, with millions of infected birds all over Asia? Are they, in effect, vaccinated against h5n1? Only if massive blood surveys were carried out could we know for sure–but no one has done this work.

  3. Paul,
    Check this out from Slashdot – there may be hope after all, thanks to the almighty cod: