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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Bird flu closes Indonesian zoo
By Rachel Harvey
BBC News, Jakarta

Zoo employees clean a cage as the park is being closed for three weeks, 19 September 2005.
The zoo is a popular attraction in the south of the city
A zoo in the Indonesian capital Jakarta has been temporarily closed after some exotic birds were found to have contracted avian flu.

The zoo remained open at the weekend but closed on Monday for three weeks.

The latest wave of bird flu has already killed four people in Indonesia, and dozens throughout South East Asia.

The WHO has warned that the virus is continuing to develop, and the possibility of human-to-human transmission remains a real threat.

Officials say 19 birds at the zoo, including peacocks, mynahs, pigmy chickens and eagles, have been infected with avian flu.

Tests will now be carried out on other animals as well as on all 500 employees.

Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

The infected birds will be destroyed unless they are protected species, in which case officials say they will be treated with medicine.

The news will add to the growing sense of anxiety in Indonesia about the way the disease is spreading.

Earlier this month a 37-year-old woman became the fourth person in Indonesia to die after contracting the H5N1 strain of the virus.

At least two children, one of them a relative of the woman, are currently being treated in hospital for symptoms consistent with bird flu.

Samples of their blood have been sent to a specialist laboratory in Hong Kong for further investigation.

See the scenes inside the zoo in Jakarta

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