The test results from the 13 Indonesians came back negative. This from Singapore's The Straights Times:
JAKARTA - THIRTEEN people in Indonesia suspected of having bird flu have tested negative for the feared disease, the country's health ministry said on Saturday.
Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) arrived Friday in the affected village in North Sumatra to help investigate a possible outbreak after three people died and the 13 were admitted to hospital.
'All specimens collected from suspect cases have given negative results'.
'They are all recovered', I Nyoman Kandun, director general of the ministry's communicable diseases department said on a text message.
Officials and residents in Asahan district in North Sumatra province said villagers began showing symptoms of avian flu after a large number of chickens died suddenly last week in Air Batu village.
The local husbandry office took preventive action this week by slaughtering and burning some 400 chickens and ducks.
The ministry, which has stopped giving regular bird flu updates, announced earlier this week that the human toll from avian influenza in Indonesia had risen to 112 following the recent death of a 19-year-old man.
I will not belabor the issues of accuracy of the tests. We all know they are fraught with false negatives. However, if all thirteen villagers have indeed already recovered then it is highly unlikely that they were suffering an H5N1 infection. Unlikely though it is, it is not guaranteed, however at this point in time, it's a good enough assumption.
It's "good enough" because the Indonesian government has proven to be less than fully transparent with the rest of the world, we have a test that is officially only presumptive at best, but mostly because there isn't a thing any of us can do about what is or isn't happening in the village of Air Batu and to its residents.
Can we take comfort in the fact that WHO arrived on the scene and if there were a genuine cause for greater concern we would be well served by their presence and actions? Maybe. Maybe not.
As I typed that sentence it came as something of a surprise to me that I actually do take comfort in the WHO's presence. Perhaps a sign I have not lost all of my naïveté, or perhaps my expectations have eroded so severely that the World Health Organization represents, at least to me, our Last Best Hope for anonymous Indonesian villagers and their 6.x billion neighbors.
Then again, perhaps it's a combination of being naïve with very low expectations. Hey, isn't there a term for that? Yeah, I think there is, and I think it's something along the lines of "clueless".