A 28-year-old woman from the outskirts of the Indonesian capital has been confirmed as dying of bird flu, raising the toll in the nation worst affected by H5N1 to 92, the health ministry said Tuesday.
Two laboratory tests on the woman, who died on Monday at a hospital in Jakarta, showed that she was infected with the highly pathogenic virus, a statement from the ministry's bird flu information centre said.
Two positive results of tests on blood and tissue samples from a victim are needed before Indonesian authorities confirm a bird flu infection.
Muhammad Nadhirin, an official at the centre, said that a team of five experts had been dispatched on Monday to the victim's neighbourhood.
The team said that "the source of infection could be from poultry 100 metres (yards) away from the victim's house, but we're waiting for test results on whether the poultry is infected with the virus," Nadhirin told AFP.
He said the victim, who had sold ornamental plants, bought plant fertiliser from the neighbour which may have been contaminated by the faeces of infected birds. No birds however had died in the area in the past six months and the poultry appeared healthy, he added.
The virus is usually transmitted to humans from infected birds.
Scientists fear however that the virus may mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, sparking a deadly global pandemic that the World Bank has said could cost up to two trillion dollars.
The victim, named Mutiah, lived in the satellite city of Tangerang, just west of Jakarta, where three other bird flu deaths have been reported since October.
Confirmation of the latest death comes as some 10,000 international visitors attend a UN climate change summit on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, some 970 kilometres (600 miles) away from Jakarta.
The latest Indonesian H5N1 death follows that of a 24-year-old man in China's eastern Jiangsu province on December 2 from the same virus.
The man's father was also infected, raising fears of human-to-human transmission, but there was no biological evidence of this, Chinese officials said Monday. No reports of outbreaks in birds had occurred in the province.
The World Bank said last week that international donors had committed more than 400 million dollars to fight bird flu at a conference on the virus in New Delhi aimed at devising ways to tackle the disease.
But the Bank has projected a need for 1.2 billion dollars over the next two to three years to help countries fight bird flu.
Excluding the latest death, H5N1 has killed 207 people worldwide since late 2003, though the number of deaths has declined from 79 in 2006 to 49 this year, according to the World Health Organisation's official toll.