Indonesian woman in Bali may have died from bird flu
JAKARTA, Aug 13 (Reuters) Samples from an Indonesian woman who died on the resort island of Bali have tested positive for bird flu after an initial test, officials said today.
A second laboratory test, which is now being conducted, is necessary to confirm the initial findings, Joko Suyono of the health ministry's bird flu centre said.
If confirmed, it would be the first human case of the H5N1 virus in Bali, the centre of Indonesia's tourism industry.
The woman's five-year-old daughter also died recently after playing with chickens but it was unclear if the girl died of bird flu.
The woman, 29, from a village in the district of Jembrana in western Bali, was suffering from a high fever before dying of multiple organ failure yesterday, said Ken Wirasandi, a doctor at the Sanglah hospital in the Balinese capital Denpasar.
Suyono said there had been sick chickens around the woman's house and many had died suddenly in recent weeks.
''The villagers didn't burn the carcasses. Instead they buried them or fed them to pigs,'' Suyono added.
Contact with sick fowl is the most common way for humans to contract the H5N1 virus.
The woman had started showing symptoms more than a week ago, but was only admitted to hospital six days later.
She was transferred to a bigger hospital in Denpasar on Friday, where she was treated in the isolation unit, Suyono said.
He said initial investigations indicated last month the daughter had become sick after playing with chickens and died a week later.
''We were unable to retrieve any tissue samples, so we can't confirm whether she died of bird flu,'' Suyono added.
Bird flu is endemic in bird populations in most parts of Indonesia, where millions of backyard chickens live in close proximity with humans.
Experts fear if the virus develops the ability to pass easily between humans, millions might die in a pandemic.
Indonesia has had 81 confirmed human deaths from bird flu, the highest for any country in the world.
So far there have been 319 confirmed human cases and 192 deaths globally, according to World Health Organisation data.