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Colds and flu

07 March 2012

Bird flu claims fifth victim this year

A 24-year-old woman has died of bird flu on Indonesia's Sumatra Island, the fifth human death from the virus this year, a health ministry official said.

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A 24-year-old woman has died of bird flu on Indonesia's Sumatra Island, the fifth human death from the virus this year, a health ministry official said.

"She tested positive for the H5N1 virus by the health ministry's laboratory. It's the fifth death here this year," the ministry's head of animal-borne infectious diseases, Rita Kusriastuti, said.

Concerns about avian influenza have risen in Asia since China in late December reported its first fatality from the H5N1 virus in 18 months. Since then one more person has died in China, according to the health ministry.

Indonesia hardest hit by bird flu

Indonesia has been the nation hardest-hit by bird flu, with 150 deaths reported between 2003 and 2011, according to the World Health Organization. Nine Indonesians died from the virus last year.

"The woman was living in an area where there are many ducks and chickens. She also had some (poultry) in her house," Kusriastuti said, adding that she died in a hospital in Bengkulu city.

The virus typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to kill millions in a pandemic.

(Sapa, March 2012) 

Read more:

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Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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