Indonesian woman dies from bird flu, bringing death toll to 59

An Indonesian woman died from bird flu while a second was in critical condition on Friday, as the country worst hit by the virus battled new cases following a six-week lull, health officials said. A teenage boy was killed earlier this week.

All three cases occurred in the industrial town of Tangerang to the west of the capital, Jakarta.

The 37-year-old woman died late Thursday soon after being admitted to a Jakarta hospital.

The woman's husband and 18-year-old son are being treated at the same hospital for symptoms of the H5N1 virus, said Haris Sugiantoro, an official at the Health Ministry's bird flu information center.

Tests also confirmed a 22-year-old woman was also suffering from the virus, said Joko Suyono, another official at the center. Neighbors reported that chickens living near her house died suddenly and the woman was seen picking one of them up and scratching her nose soon after.

"She is now in critical condition in an intensive care unit of the hospital," Suyono said.

On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy also from Tangerang died after being treated for four days at the same hospital, reports AP.

He was the country's first fatality in six weeks a pause that had led Indonesian officials to say they were making progress in the fight against the disease.

"Indonesia has been on the right track in handling the bird flu, but the danger still exists," Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of the country's bird flu commission, told reporters. "We hope the virus decreases more this year, but the war is continuing."

At least 59 people have now died from bird flu in Indonesia more than a third of the world's total since the virus began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in 2003.

The virus remains hard for humans to catch and kills a tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands of people who die each year in developing countries from easily preventable diseases.

But international experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily between humans and potentially kill millions around the world.

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