A 39-year-old Indonesian man has died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu according to local tests, Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said on Friday.
Supari told reporters the ministry was awaiting confirmation of the results from a Hong Kong laboratory affiliated with the World Health Organization.
Indonesia has had nine deaths from bird flu confirmed by the Hong Kong laboratory and five cases where patients have survived.
“Local tests show he’s positive for bird flu,” Supari said, referring to the man who died earlier this week at a hospital in Jakarta designated to treat bird flu patients.
It was unclear if he had contact with dead chickens.
Since late 2003, the H5N1 avian flu virus is known to have killed 71 people in five Asian countries -- Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain at the moment is hard for humans to catch and remains essentially a virus in birds. However, scientists fear it could mutate into a form that could easily pass from human to human.
The virus is endemic in poultry in parts of Asia, and has affected birds in two-thirds of the provinces in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of some 17,000 islands and 220 million people.
Indonesia has millions of chickens and ducks, many in the backyards of rural or urban homes.