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Possible sixth bird flu death in Indonesia

A man has died of suspected bird flu in Indonesia local tests have shown, a hospital spokesman said.
/ Source: Reuters

A man has died of suspected bird flu in Indonesia local tests have shown, a hospital spokesman said on Wednesday.

If confirmed by further testing, the death would be the sixth from bird flu in the world’s fourth most populous nation, according to health ministry data.

The official said local tests confirmed the 23-year-old who died last Thursday was positive for the H5N1 strain of the virus.

“He was transferred from another hospital and came here with a high fever and acute respiratory problems,” said Ilham Patu, spokesman on bird flu surveillance at Jakarta’s main infectious disease hospital. “He died hours later,” Patu said.

Local testing is followed by analysis at a Hong Kong laboratory recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bird flu has killed more than 60 people in four Asian nations since late 2003 and has been found in birds in Russia and Europe.

The WHO puts the number of dead at three in Indonesia, based on the Hong Kong tests.

One of the greatest fears of experts is that the H5N1 virus will mutate to become easily passed between humans, triggering a pandemic. The current H5N1 strain of bird flu cannot be easily transmitted by people.

A large number of people in both rural and urban areas of the country who keep a few chickens and other livestock pose one of difficulties in controlling the disease which has ravaged poultry in the country.