Monday, November 24, 2008

Makassar stages first urban bird flu sim

Mon, 11/24/2008 12:31
Makassar municipality organized a bird flu pandemic simulation in Tamangapa sub district, Manggala district, Makassar, South Sulawesi in an effort to disseminate know-how and to train related institutions on how to cope with a bird flu pandemic.
The two-hour simulation held on Saturday involved at least 300 people from various institutions, including the Health Agency, the Food Self-Reliance and Marine Agency, the Education Agency, the Communication Agency, the National Police, the Indonesian Army and the public service center.
The simulation started with a report about poultry deaths that allegedly triggered the death of two residents. The rapid tests conducted by the local authority at the incident site showed that the affected poultry and the two residents were positively infected by the bird flu virus.
In the simulation, the region then was declared a pandemic-affected area and had to be closed or isolated.
Only the authorities, who wore protective suits, made up of protected clothing, masks, glasses, over-shoes and special gloves, were permitted to enter the affected area to evacuate the victims, to deal with the infected poultry and to sterilize the location, using disinfectant.
The ambulances also had to be sterilized before leaving the bird flu area.
A sterile area was prepared to handle the affected victims and to accommodate people who had just been evacuated from the pandemic location. The authority prepared an emergency post, shelters and a communal kitchen in the sterile location zone for evacuees.
Makassar mayor Andi Herry Iskandar explained that the bird flu virus had been spreading and had infected human beings, causing concern that the pandemic could potentially lead to massive deaths.
"The most frightening thing is that if there is a bird flu pandemic then it could cause massive deaths. Therefore, people and related institutions have to be trained to handle bird flu from the very beginning, just in case there is pandemic in their location," said Andi.
As of now, the city recorded that one resident has died of bird flu. The victim, Akirah, 14, resident of Jl. Maccini, Makassar, died in June 2006. The laboratory test of his blood and mucus specimens resulted in positive confirmation that he was infected by the H5N1 virus. The lab result was only disclosed three months after his death.
Three years ago, a resident of Sinjai regency in South Sulawesi, Khairil Anwar, 22, was identified as positively infected by the virus. Khairil, the first man in Indonesia declared to be infected by the bird flu virus, is still healthy up to now.
The head of the Makassar Health Agency, Naisyah Tun Azikin, said that Tamangapa was selected to be a drill location as it was located at the border area of Makassar and Gowa, which was prone to contagious diseases like bird flu, because it was a transit and distribution area for many products related to the poultry industry.
Naisyah disclosed that the municipality had scheduled to set up simulations at busy public places, for example in shopping mall centers, hospitals, schools, harbors and airports.
Meanwhile, seven out of 17 bird flu suspected patients in Wahidin Sudirohusodo general hospital in Makassar who have been declared bird flu free have been sent home, while the rest were still at the hospital, for further treatment.
hattip Anne

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