Bird flu claims 9th victim in Indonesia this year

Aug 13, 2012, 11:24 AM EDT
In this April 26, 2012, a Balinese government official holds a chicken before administering an injection to cull it as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of bird flu, at a market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, after an eight-year-old boy died from bird flu in a Bali hospital.
(AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati, File)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The Health Ministry says bird flu has killed a 37-year-old man in central Indonesia, marking the country's ninth fatality this year.

The Ministry's website said Monday that the man died July 30 in Yogyakarta province after being hospitalized for five days.

It confirmed that the man who lived near a chicken slaughterhouse was infected with the H5N1 virus after apparently coming into contact with sick birds.

The virus, which began ravaging poultry across Asia in 2003, remains entrenched in Indonesia. Experts fear it could mutate into a form that passes easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic. But most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds.

The World Health Organization says 359 people have died from it worldwide. Indonesia remains the hardest-hit country, accounting for 159 deaths.