posted by admin on 14/11/06
The 35-year-old woman from the city of Tangerang died after four days of hospitalization
November 14, 2006 1:18 a.m.
A woman died of bird flu on the western outskirts of Indonesia's capital Tuesday, raising the country's death toll from the virus to 57, a senior health ministry official said.
The 35-year-old woman from the city of Tangerang died after four days of hospitalization, said Nyoman Kandun, adding the source of infection was still under investigation.
On Monday, the health ministry said a young boy had died from bird flu. The victims lived in different towns on the outskirts of Jakarta and hadn't been in contact with each other, according to the health ministry's bird-flu information center.
The H5N1 virus has killed at least 153 people world-wide since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization, with well over a third of the human deaths in Indonesia. Most of those killed have been infected by domestic fowl, but WHO fears the virus could mutate into a form that easily spreads among humans, sparking a pandemic with the potential to kill millions.
Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and home to millions of backyard chickens, is considered a potential hotspot for that to happen.
The government came under fire for moving slowly to stamp out the virus when it first appeared in chickens and ducks, but has worked hard in recent months to raise public awareness about the dangers of bird flu. It has also increased vaccinations and slaughtering of birds in infected areas.
Separately, Pacific Rim leaders will endorse a plan to fight bird flu and cooperate in improving regional pandemic preparedness, according to a draft statement to be released this weekend.
Leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, gathering in Hanoi for their annual summit, will support a plan calling for enhanced surveillance, improved infrastructure and expanded technical collaboration in the region.
The plan follows a meeting in May at which health and agriculture ministers from the region agreed on ways to head off a potential pandemic, including calling for the restructuring of some backyard farming practices into larger, more controlled operations.
In the draft statement, the APEC leaders urge a "deepened engagement of the private sector to help ensure continuity of business, trade and essential services in the event of a pandemic outbreak."
Copyright © 2006 Associated Press