Indonesian boy dies of bird flu - health ministry

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JAKARTA, Oct 13 (Reuters) A 12-year-old Indonesian boy has died of bird flu, taking the total death toll from the disease in the country to 88, a health ministry official said today.

Another official at the ministry's bird flu centre had earlier said was not clear how the boy, from Tanggerang city in West Java, contracted the virus, but that some chickens had died in his neighbourhood.

''A team has conducted an investigation to find out how the boy got infected and we are waiting for the result,'' the bird flu centre's Daswir Nurdin said.

The most common way to contract the deadly virus is through sick fowl.

The disease is endemic in the bird population in most parts of Indonesia, where millions of backyard fowl are kept in close proximity to humans and where education campaigns often do not reach remote areas.

Indonesia has had 109 confirmed cases of human bird flu, 88 of them fatal, the highest in the world.

Scientists are concerned the H5N1 virus could mutate into a form that passes easily between humans, triggering a pandemic in which millions could die.

REUTERS SKB AS1246

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