Indonesian woman dies of bird flu

/ Source: Reuters

A 67-year-old Indonesian woman died of bird flu after being treated at a hospital for more than a week, marking the country’s 54th death from the virus, an official at the health ministry said on Monday.

“The virus in her was highly pathogenic, very vicious. She is the 54th casualty out of 71 cases,” said Runizar Ruesin, the head of the health ministry’s bird flu information centre.

The woman from the West Java city of Bandung died on Sunday night, the official said.

Hadi Yusuf, the doctor who treated her, told Reuters the disease also affected the woman’s kidneys.

Tests last week found she had the H5N1 virus.

Indonesia has become one of the frontlines in the battle against the disease. No country has suffered from more deaths than this huge Asian country of 17,000 islands where millions of chickens roam backyards freely.

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.

Diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and tuberculosis kill thousands of Indonesians annually.