Three Susfected Bird Flu Sufferers in Pekanbaru Hospitalized

Pekanbaru, Riau, April 30 (ANTARA) - Arifin Achmad General Hospital in Riau province admitted three suspected bird flu patients on Friday, a hospital spokesman said.

Before receiving Dina Ananda Sari,5, Siti Fatimah, 44, and Anggi Saputra,11, the hospital had previously treated Joice Evelyn, 4, who was also suspected of having been infected with the bird flu virus.

The hospital's spokesman, Zainal Arifin, said the three latest patients were all residents of Sungai Apit sub-district, Siak district.

When admitted to the hospital, their body temperatures exceeded 36 degree Celcius, he said.

Arifin said Dina Ananda Sari might have been infected with the deadly virus because she lived next to a chicken slaughter house.

Sari was a neighbor of Siti Fatimah who was believed to have had direct contact with the dead chickens, he said.

"Before being taken to the hospital, the three patients were treated at a community health center for bird flu symptoms," he said.

They were now all being treated by the hospital's bird flu task force led by Doctor Azizman Saad, he said.

"We are taking their blood and body fluid samples for examination at the health ministry's laboratory in Jakarta," he said.

The bird flu attacks remain a serious problem in almost all provinces in Indonesia particularly during the rainy season.

The bird flu virus attacking the country is classified as "highly pathogenic avian influenza".

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), avian influenza or "bird flu" is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs.

The WHO has warned that the infection with avian influenza viruses could spread very rapidly through poultry flocks.

Indonesia has 33 provinces. Only three have been confirmed free from the threat of bird flu viruses.

Indonesia has been dealing with bird flu since 2005. However, the H5N1 type influenza is also known to have attacked chicken and birds in other Asian countries, such as Thailand, Cambodia, China, and Vietnam.