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Indonesia's Bird Flu Death Toll Touches 80

A 29-year-old Indonesian man has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the H5N1 avian influenza virus to 80, the world's highest, an official said Friday.

The man, identified only by the initials YT, died in hospital Tuesday in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province on Sumatra Island, after undergoing one-day treatment, said Joko, an official at the Indonesian health ministry.

"He had a history of contact with sick chickens," Joko told DPA. He added that the victim had reportedly killed, cooked and consumed some ill fowl.

Most bird flu victims globally have had direct or indirect contact with sick birds, but scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible among humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions.

The man's death brings the toll in Indonesia to 80 deaths from 100 human cases, including 23 people this year.

Indonesia's infection rate is now declining but the human fatality rate has actually risen to more than 79 percent, Bayu Krisnamurti, chief of the National Commission for Bird Flu Control and Pandemic Preparedness, said last week.

Human bird flu cases have been reported in 11 of the country's 33 provinces, while the virus is endemic among poultry in 31 provinces and has killed millions of birds.


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