Bird-Flu Sorrow in Sukabumi

Sukabumi is a Sanskrit word, dating back to the Hindu Indonesia, predating the Islamic invasion of the country.

The city is close to the Indian Ocean and is characterized by a long stretch of pristine sandy beaches, cliffs, a marine turtle habitat and the primary forest of Mount Halimun, the largest National Park in West Java.

It is not a surprise therefore, that the name Sukabumi in the Sanskrit language means “The Land of Happiness”.

The residents of Sukabumi are not happy at this time though, as the city has the dubious honour of hosting the latest human case of the H5N1 virus.

Ririn Meilani, a 12 year  old girl from Sukabumi, has been admitted to Syamsudin General Hospital, with high fever and respiratory problems, as a suspected bird flu sufferer.

Recently, a large number of chickens in her neighborhood had suddenly died for unknown reasons.

Ririn Meilani was hospitalized on last Thursday day evening.

Paramaedics took samples of her blood for specialised laboratory tests.

She is currently being treated at the hospital`s emergency care unit.

Ujang Suhendi, the girl`s father, said his daughter had been suffering from high fever and respiratory problems since June 16, when a number of chickens in their neighborhood died.

Around 75 percent of the chicken population in the area where Ujang lived, had died by mysterious causes.

Ririn had had contact with one of the dead chickens, he said. She is currently being treated at the hospital`s emergency care unit, he said.
On August 1, the local husbandry and animal health offices sent a team to check on all poultry in the area. But until Friday local residents were still uninformed about the results of the team`s work.

Syamsudin General Hospital Director Dr Suherman said there were indications Ririn was infected with the bird flu virus. However, to obtain confirmation of the suspicion samples of her blood would be sent to the Health Development and Research Agency in Jakarta for more conclusive laboratory tests.

A report of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said recently around 60 percent of all Indonesian households keep an estimated 300 million birds in their backyards.



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