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Indonesian Markets Could Assist Spread of Bird Flu: WHO

JAKARTA - The World Health Organization has warned that unhealthy conditions prevailing in the traditional Indonesian markets are ideal for the spread of bird flu//. This caution from the WHO comes after it was found that a 22-year-old Indonesian chicken seller died from the H5N1 bird flu virus.

"The exposure to poultry by market stall owners, slaughterers, poultry workers and the customer in the wet marketplace demonstrated that awareness of avian influenza, transmission routes and methods of preventing transmission is limited," said Alexander von Hildebrand, the WHO's regional adviser for environmental health. "Some vendors are keeping chickens very close to ducks which can be a problem because ducks do not show the disease but can carry it and transmit it." He added that if an infected bird was present, then there was a risk of spreading the virus, "Re-zoning is necessary to limit the potential public exposure." The total number of death in Indonesia from bird flu is now 15. But authorities have not sanctioned any mass culling of birds. Millions of Indonesian come to these traditional markets to shop for daily needs and the WHO has stressed that preventive measures need to be put into pace to avoid a pandemic.

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