Bird flu killed a 29-year-old man in Indonesia after he came into contact with dead chickens, taking the country's human death toll from the disease to 74, the health ministry said yesterday.
"The patient had contact with a large number of dead chickens between March 19 and March 20," a spokesman from the ministry's bird flu information center said.
The government announced on Friday that fatalities had risen to 74.
Most human infections have occurred after contact with sick birds. But scientists fear the deadly H5N1 strain could mutate and become easily transmissible among people, triggering a devastating human pandemic.
The 29-year-old man was the 94th person infected by the disease in Indonesia, the country worst hit by the virus. He died on Thursday in Solo, about 500km from the capital Jakarta.
The government had hoped to eradicate bird flu deaths this year, but instead at least 16 people have perished after contracting the virus.
People who contract the disease in Indonesia are very likely to die, as its bird flu fatality rate is nearly 79 percent.
The government said late on Friday that Indonesia had to intensify the fight against bird flu after surpassing Vietnam as the nation with the highest number of confirmed human infections.
"We had hoped that this day would never come," said Bayu Krisnamurthi, the chief executive of the National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Preparedness.
"The government, along with UN agencies, NGOs and other groups have been working throughout the country to try to stop the spread of the virus and stop it from infecting people, but it is an enormous task," he said in a statement.
A panel of experts from the committee judged the virus had yet to mutate into a form easily spread among people, the statement said.