An Indonesian woman has died of bird flu, raising the country's death toll to 62, while South Korea was set to slaughter 273,000 poultry after an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain at a chicken farm, officials said.
The 19-year-old woman died on Friday after being hospitalized for three days in the West Java town of Garut, some 200km southeast of the capital, Jakarta, said health ministry official Nyoman Kandun.
"She had contact with dead poultry six days before hospitalized," Kandun said.
The woman's death is the fifth human bird flu fatality in the country since Jan. 9. Before that, Indonesia had not recorded any cases for six weeks -- a lull that led some Indonesian officials to say they were succeeding in beating the disease.
The spike in cases has prompted the government to plunge into an all-out campaign to clear several provinces -- with the highest number of bird flu cases -- of fowl, starting on Friday with the capital, where four people had died in the past week.
"Quick and concrete actions are needed to prevent more victims," Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, who goes only with one name, told el-Shinta radio station yesterday.
He gave Jakarta residents two weeks to surrender or sell their birds before officials would go door-to-door confiscating fowls to rid its teeming streets of backyard chickens.
The governor also said Jakarta had plans to relocate its traditional bird markets from downtown areas, but gave no details.
There are estimated to be around 350 million backyard chickens throughout Indonesia, many of which are kept outside houses in the capital and surrounding towns.
The health minister said last week that nine other provinces hard-hit by bird flu would also soon ban chickens from residential areas.
According to the WHO, the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has killed 161 people world wide since late 2003, and although it remains hard for humans to catch, international experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily between humans.
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