Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Indonesian woman dies of bird flu -health ministry
JAKARTA, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A 35-year-old Indonesian woman has died of bird flu, taking the country’s human death toll from the virus to 57, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.
The woman from West Java had been undergoing treatment in a Jakarta hospital since early in the month.
“The woman had contact with chicken eggs and there had been reports about dead poultry,” the official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
The vast majority of human bird flu cases involving the H5N1 virus have been linked to direct or indirect contact with infected fowl.
Indonesia’s death toll of 57 from the disease is the highest in the world. The total number of confirmed human cases in the country is 74.
Bird flu remains essentially an animal disease but it has infected nearly 260 people worldwide since late 2003, killing more than 150, according to the World Health Organisation. Indonesia, a huge country of 17,000 islands where millions of chickens roam backyards freely, has become one of the frontlines in the battle against the disease.
Despite the rise in the human death toll, the Indonesian government has resisted mass culling of birds, citing the expense and impracticality in a sprawling, populous country where many people are still unperturbed by the bird flu threat.
Officials say the number of provinces where bird flu is endemic among fowl has nearly halved in the last six months, although it remains widespread on heavily populated Java island.