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Ciptapangan Visitor
Indonesia bird flu toll hits 55
posted by admin on 18/10/06

The highly pathogenic virus has spread to 29 of Indonesia's 33 provinces since being discovered in 2003, killing millions of birds.

Jakarta (dpa) - The human death toll from bird flu in Indonesia rose to 55 after a woman who died last week in a Central Java hospital has been confirmed as being contracted with the H5N1 virus, health officials and the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Runizar Roesin, an official at Indonesia's Health Ministry's information centre said a 27-year-old woman died on October 13, one-day after being treated at a Central Java hospital.

"She developed symptoms on October 8 but was only brought to hospital on October 12," Roesin told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Another health official said the source of her exposure is currently under investigation.

Her death now brings the number of human fatalities from the H5N1 strain of the virus in Indonesia to 55 from 72 confirmed cases, according to WHO's records.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, leads Vietnam which has recorded 42 deaths from avian influenza, however, none occurred this year.

On Monday, Indonesia posted two newly confirmed fatalities from the avian influenza virus, after an 11-year-old boy died on Saturday night in a Jakarta hospital, followed by an elderly woman who died from bird flu on Sunday night in West Java province.

Most of the victims had direct or indirect contact with chickens, but scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form easily transmissible among humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions.

Indonesia has been criticized for failing to aggressively attack the virus in poultry. It claims it cannot afford widescale vaccination or compensation for farmers if it carries out mass preventive cullings.

But government officials claim efforts to combat the disease are on the right track, though admitted that more has to be done, in particular in terms of surveillance, described as the key element to combating the bird flu virus in the country.

The highly pathogenic virus has spread to 29 of Indonesia's 33 provinces since being discovered in 2003, killing millions of birds.

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