Bird flu death toll in Indonesia reaches 95

The death toll in Indonesia from bird flu has risen to 95 following the death of a woman in West Java.

The 32-year-old from Banten province became ill on January 3rd and was seen at a clinic six days later and admitted to Sari Asih Hospital with fever, respiratory problems and pneumonia.

Health Ministry officials say she died on Thursday after her family had ignored the advice of doctors and taken her home to Tangerang which is about 20km west of Jakarta.

They say tests have confirmed she had been suffering from the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu and investigators are trying to determine how the woman was exposed to the virus.

The woman apparently kept live chickens in her backyard, and just before becoming sick she had bought a live chicken and some eggs from a market and cooked them.

The neighbourhood is rife with backyard farms and her death was Indonesia's 95th out of 118 diagnosed cases of H5N1; both figures are the highest in the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a 16-year old girl from West Java province was admitted to hospital in Jakarta on the 4th of January, also with H5N1 bird flu.

The WHO says she became ill on 30th December and health officials found chickens had been dying near her home in the two weeks before her symptoms began.

The girl is reported to now be stable, although she is still on a ventilator.

Before the latest case and death in Indonesia, the World Health Organization had confirmed a global total of 349 reported cases and at least 216 deaths, in 12 countries in Asia and Africa.

The H5N1 virus nevertheless remains a disease of birds and is only contracted by close contact with infected fowl.

However experts fear the virus which is continually adapting, will mutate into a form that could spread easily from human to human, turning into a pandemic that could kill millions of people.

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