This time last year Indonesia was openly talking about the prospect of seeing no human cases of bird flu in 2007. It was a curiously optimistic notion, brought on by the fact that no new human cases had been reported in over six weeks.
All hopes for a `clean year' were dashed in early January when a series of human cases erupted in quick succession.
This December, the Indonesian government isn't so sanguine about the future.
JAKARTA, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia has seen a drop in the number of bird flu infections in humans this year, although the fatality rate has risen and the country faces a long battle against the virus, a government official said on Tuesday.
Indonesia has had 115 confirmed human cases of bird flu and 92 human deaths, the highest number globally, since the first cases of the deadly H5N1 virus emerged in chickens in the Southeast Asian country four years ago and in humans in 2005.
Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of the national bird flu commission, said there was now greater public awareness of the disease.
"Unfortunately, on a less than happy note, I have to say that Indonesia's battle against bird flu is not over, and the battle will continue for a long time," he told a news conference.
More needed to be done to contain sporadic outbreaks in poultry and on surveillance to spot sick chickens, Krisnamurthi said.
Many flocks of poultry did not show signs of the disease, even though they were carriers of the virus, while the rapid movement of fowl and humans sometimes made it difficult to trace the source of virus after human infection, he added.
"There were four cases in the past four months where we found a positive human case, but were not able to trace it to sick chickens," Krisnamurthi said.
"We need to intensify our search... unfortunately bird flu is endemic in this country, so the virus is everywhere."