Monday, July 17, 2006


There hasn't yet been the much feared pandemic outbreak in Indonesia, but the steady tick-tock of human deaths goes on.

From the Jakarta Post :
A 44-year-old Indonesian man died of bird flu, the health ministry said Sunday, edging the sprawling nation closer to becoming the world's hardest hit by the virus.

If confirmed by a World Health Organization-approved laboratory, the man's death would bring the number of Indonesians killed by the H5N1 bird flu strain to at least 42, the same as Vietnam.

"Local tests showed he was infected with the H5N1 virus," senior health ministry official Nyoman Kandun said, adding that the man died July 12 after being hospitalized for two days with a high fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.

The victim, from Jakarta's eastern outskirts, reportedly came into contact with infected birds, he said.

Bird flu has killed at least 132 people worldwide since it started ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003, according to WHO.

Vietnam has not recorded any new human deaths this year, thanks in part to an aggressive campaign to slaughter all birds in infected areas.

But the death toll in Indonesia, a massive archipelago that is home to 220 million people, is increasing faster than any other country in the world -- with all of its deaths occurring in the last year.

The cash-strapped government has been criticized for not routinely slaughtering fowl in infected areas, seen as the best way to stop the virus from spreading. It says it cannot afford to compensate farmers.

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