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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 08:53 GMT
Indonesia reports bird flu death
A bird cage is thrown into fire during a poultry culling in Jakarta, Indonesia
Indonesia has been criticised for its reluctance to have a widespread cull
A 25-year-old Indonesian woman is suspected to have become the country's eighth victim of bird flu.

Indonesia's health ministry said tests on the woman were positive, but they are waiting for official confirmation from the World Health Organization.

The woman died after being treated at the Sulianto Saroso hospital in the capital Jakarta, officials said.

The H5N1 virus has killed nearly 70 people in South East Asia since the latest outbreak began in 2003.

A hospital spokesman said the woman had been in contact with dead chickens before being admitted on 24 November. She died on Tuesday.

"When we admitted her the condition was already bad," Ilham Patu told Reuters news agency.

He said the government would not update its official death toll figure until the local tests had been confirmed by the WHO-accredited laboratory in Hong Kong.

The results could take several days.

Vaccinations

The Hong Kong laboratory has confirmed seven human deaths from bird flu in Indonesia since the country's first fatality was confirmed in July. Five other people have caught the virus but survived.

Indonesia has launched awareness campaigns and appealed for help to boost its supply of anti-viral drugs, improve laboratory testing and give extra training and equipment to health and agriculture officials.

But there has been criticism of its reluctance to sanction widespread culling of birds, preferring, where possible, to use vaccination as a method of control, due to the expense and huge logistical hurdles involved in killing huge numbers of birds.

The outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain among birds was first spotted in Vietnam and Thailand in 2003.

The disease does not transmit easily to humans, and almost all the victims have had very close contact with infected poultry.

But experts warn that with every case of human infection, there is a risk of the disease mutating or combining with human flu and becoming more easily transmissible.





SEE ALSO:
China has second bird flu death
23 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific



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