Indonesia woman dies of bird flu, toll up to 87

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JAKARTA, Oct 8 (Reuters) A 44-year-old Indonesian woman has died of bird flu, taking the country's total death total from the disease to 87, a health ministry official said today.

The woman, from Pekan Baru city on Sumatra island, fell sick after she bought chicken in a market last month, Azizman Saad, head of bird flu management at the hospital where she was treated, told Reuters.

''She was treated for high fever at several hospitals before finally being admitted to Arifin Achmad hospital on October 4. She died the next day,'' Saad said.

Genetic sequencing tests by Indonesia's main laboratory for bird flu research showed that the woman had contracted the deadly H5N1 virus, health ministry official Joko Suyono said by phone.

Indonesia has had 108 confirmed bird flu cases, of which 87 have been fatal, the highest for any country in the world.

The most common way to contract the bird flu virus is through sick fowl. Although bird flu remains an animal disease, experts fear the virus could mutate and spread from human to human, turning into a pandemic that could kill millions.

REUTERS TB AS0747

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