Indonesian girl dies of bird flu-health ministry

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JAKARTA, Oct 23 (Reuters) An Indonesian toddler from Tangerang, west of the capital Jakarta, has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll from the disease to 89, a health ministry official said today.

The four-year-old girl died yesterday after being admitted to hospital two days earlier, health ministry spokeswoman Lili Sulistyowati said by telephone.

The girl, who had been suffering from fever, died after being transferred to Persahabatan hospital in Jakarta.

Officials were still investigating the case, but four chickens had previously died in the girl's neighbourhood, another official at the ministry's bird flu centre said.

Contact with sick fowl is the most common way for humans to contract the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus.

Bird flu is endemic in bird populations in most parts of Indonesia, where millions of backyard chickens live in close proximity with humans.

Indonesia, which has now had 110 confirmed cases of the disease in humans, has suffered more fatalities than any other country.

Including the latest case, there have been 204 deaths and 332 cases globally since 2003, according to World Health Organisation data.

Experts fear if an easy means of transmission from human to human develops, there might be a pandemic affecting millions.

REUTERS GL HS2224

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