Woman's Death Brings Indonesian Bird Flu Toll to 103

An Indonesian woman died of bird flu over the weekend, bringing Indonesia's death toll from the disease to 103, a Health Ministry official said.

The 29-year-old housewife from Tangerang town in the western outskirts of Jakarta, died Saturday at a hospital in the city, said Sumardi, a ministry spokesman.

The woman was first hospitalized on Jan. 28, six days after she developed symptoms, including fever, a cough and respiratory problems, said Sumardi, who uses a single name.

She was then moved to Persahabatan Hospital in eastern Jakarta on Jan. 29, he said.

The woman was reported to have visited her parents, whose neighbors kept chickens, Sumardi said. It was not clear whether the chickens were infected.

Indonesia has recorded human bird flu deaths regularly since the virus began ravaging poultry stocks across Asia in 2003.

Scientists have warned that Indonesia, which has millions of backyard chickens and poor medical facilities, is a potential hot spot for a global bird flu pandemic.

Meanwhile, French news agency AFP reports that Bangladesh has slaughtered 50,000 poultry to combat a severe outbreak of bird flu that continues to spread while neighboring India has stepped up similar efforts.

The deadly H5N1 strain is now present in 35 of Bangladesh's 64 districts, the livestock department said. No human infections have been reported in Bangladesh, but 800 farmers have been given anti-viral vaccines.

In India, which has been combating its third and worst outbreak of the virus among poultry, three poultry-culling workers were in isolation after developing flu symptoms, officials said in West Bengal state, which borders Bangladesh.

Click here for more on this story from AFP