A 32-year-old Indonesian woman has died of bird flu, the health ministry said in a statement Monday, bringing the toll to 95 in the nation worst hit by the H5N1 virus.
She had been taken to hospital on January 9 with a fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia, but her family "ignored the advice of the hospital doctor to continue hospitalization".
The woman's family kept chickens in their backyard, iol.co.za reports.
The global spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 in birds is considered a significant pandemic threat.
While other H5N1 strains are known, they are significantly different from a current, highly pathogenic H5N1 strain on a genetic level, making the global spread of this new strain unprecedented. The H5N1 strain is a fast-mutating, highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) found in multiple bird species. It is both epizootic (an epidemic in non-humans) and panzootic (a disease affecting animals of many species especially over a wide area). Unless otherwise indicated, "H5N1" in this article refers to the recent highly pathogenic strain of H5N1.
"Since 1997, studies of H5N1 indicate that these viruses continue to evolve, with changes in antigenicity and internal gene constellations; an expanded host range in avian species and the ability to infect felids; enhanced pathogenicity in experimentally infected mice and ferrets, in which they cause systemic infections; and increased environmental stability."
Experts believe more work is needed to determine the role of mammals in the epidemiology of H5N1. Officials are not doing enough to monitor cats, dogs and other carnivores for their possible role in transmitting H5N1. People living in areas where the A(H5N1) virus has infected birds are advised to keep their cats indoors. "Cats can be infected through the respiratory tract. Cats can also be infected when they ingest the virus, which is a novel route for influenza transmission in mammals. But cats excrete only one-thousandth the amount of virus that chickens do.