Health official says Indonesian woman 'extremely likely' to have contracted bird flu

An Indonesian woman who died after showing bird flu symptoms is "extremely likely" to have contracted the disease, but there is no evidence that it is passing between humans here, the health minister said Monday.

It would be Indonesia's fourth bird flu death if laboratory tests due later this week confirm that the 37-year-old woman had the virus.

"It is extremely likely she has contracted bird flu," Health Minister Siti Fadila Supari told reporters. "I suspect the results will show (that)."

Supari said the woman had lived near a chicken slaughterhouse in a crowded part of the capital, Jakarta but had no frequent contacts with chickens, unlike many bird flu victims elsewhere in Asia.

The minister said the source of the apparent infection had not been found, but urged "people not to panic, because bird flu cannot pass between humans."

Indonesia recorded its first human fatalities from bird flu in July, when a father and his two daughters died after contracting the H5N1 virus. They are believed to have caught the disease from an infected chicken's droppings, officials said.

After those deaths, the government pledged to better monitor chicken farms and cull infected birds.

However, outbreaks have continued to occur among the country's roughly 2 billion chickens, said Tri Satya Putri Naipospos, director of animal health at the agriculture ministry.

"Reports keep coming in," Naipospos said, adding that outbreaks have occurred in 22 of Indonesia's 33 provinces since 2003, reports the AP.

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