Indonesia intensifies its fight against bird flu, Top EU health official says

Indonesia has to intensify its fight against bird flu, the EU's top health official said Wednesday, adding that the international community was ready to help. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said the Indonesian government has the political will and a plan to contain the disease that has killed at least 64 people in Asia and has been found recently in poultry stocks in Europe. The key now, he said, is implementation of the plan, which includes surveillance, research and the vaccination and culling of chickens. "Of course there will be a need for an increased effort," Kyprianou said as he wrapped up a tour of Southeast Asia.

"It will not be an easy task," he said, adding that the European Union, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization were willing to offer assistance.

Most human victims have contracted the deadly H5N1 virus from sick birds, but experts fear it will mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between humans, sparking a possible pandemic that could kill millions worldwide.

Indonesia has had five confirmed human deaths, and officials are awaiting results from a Hong Kong laboratory for two other women who died earlier this month, reports the AP. I.L.

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