Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hospitals and clinics on alert for bird flu

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: All hospitals and clinics nationwide have been alerted to inform the Health Ministry if they are treating an excessive number of people with flu and cough.
This follows a notice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that the bird flu situation in Indonesia could get out of control.
“The notification is a reminder of the danger of bird flu as well as to keep a close watch on the current situation here,” Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican had said recently.
“We are also monitoring the situation with the Veterinary Services Department. Our medical personnel have been put on standby and are ready to be mobilised should an outbreak occur.”
Dr Ismail said the ministry was prepared to handle the situation, and should a pandemic occur the contingency plan would be activated.
“We have the capability and machinery to handle the situation. We have prepared our medical staff to meet any eventuality,” he said.
Last month, WHO warned that Indonesia faced a possible bigger bird flu threat with an average of one human death every two-and-a-half days, putting it on pace to surpass Vietnam as the world’s hardest-hit country.
Malaysian Nature Society bird conservation council member Glenda Noramly said the possibility of migratory birds spreading the avian flu had not been proven.
“But this cannot be discounted if wild birds are found mixing with domestic fowl in countries where there is an outbreak,” she said.
For the time being, she said, local authorities need not worry about the possibility of migratory birds passing the disease to local birds or fowl here as the migratory season had ended.

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