Tangerang man positive for swine flu: Health Ministry
The 18-year-old man in Tangerang, who was suspected of being infected with bird flu and who died on Wednesday, tested positive for swine flu, the Health Ministry said.
The ministry’s head of research and development, Trihono, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the man, known as R, had contracted H1N1, which caused a pandemic in 2009.
Trihono said, however, that it was unlikely that the man had died of swine flu. “While swine flu was deadly in 2009 and 2010, it is no longer a harmful disease.”
He added that the disease is a lot like a more common seasonal flu. “The sufferer does not even need to be isolated,” he said.
The World Health Organization announced in 2010 that the H1N1 swine-flu pandemic had passed, but made clear that “this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away”.
Trihono suspected that the patient might have suffered from another, deadlier disease, which led to his death. “That disease killed him rather than the swine flu.”
Officials from Tangerang General Hospital and the regency’s health authority declined to comment on the swine-flu infection, telling the Post that only Health Ministry officials were authorized to make such comments.
The hospital’s spokesman, Achmad Muchlis, had earlier said that R had died from respiratory problems. The man, a resident from Panongan district in Tangerang, died after being treated for five days.
The hospital had conducted polymerase chain reaction tests to confirm whether he had bird flu but they came back negative. It said it would conduct more tests.
“The research and development department has not yet received the patient’s complete medical record. We cannot reveal his cause of death just now,” Trihono said.
The ministry said it would examine the case further as there was a possibility, no matter how small, that the swine flu could transform into a more threatening virus to human beings. “The test that we are about to conduct is aimed at ensuring that the swine-flu threat is still under control,” he said.
In 2009, the Health Ministry reported that at least four Indonesians died from swine flu.
The Jakarta administration is on alert in case of a possible outbreak of bird flu following the deaths
of two siblings in North Jakarta who were confirmed to have contracted the virus. (lfr)