JAKARTA, Indonesia – An Indonesian man died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu after coming into contact with his neighbor's infected chickens, a senior health official said Friday, citing local laboratory tests.
A swab and blood sample from the 30-year-old man have been sent to a World Health Organization-sanctioned laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmation, said Hariadi Wibisono, a director at the Health Ministry.
If confirmed, his death will raise Indonesia's human toll from H5N1 to 25 — the second highest in the world after Vietnam.
The sprawling archipelago is logging cases faster than any other country, leading some international health experts to say it could do more to battle the virus.
Wibisono said the man who died on Wednesday had contact with poultry in Tangerang, a city 25 miles west of the capital Jakarta that has tallied several deaths.
The lethal H5N1 virus has killed 113 people worldwide, mostly in Asia, according to the WHO.
Health experts say it remains difficult for humans to catch H5N1, but they fear the virus could mutate into a form more easily transmitted among people and set off a flu endemic that could kill millions worldwide.