Indonesian man dies of bird flu -health official

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JAKARTA, Nov 10 (Reuters) An Indonesian man from Riau province on Sumatra island has died of bird flu, taking the country's death toll from the disease to 91, a health ministry official said today.

It was not clear if the 31-year-old man who died on Tuesday had been in contact with sick fowl, the most common way of contracting the disease, health ministry spokeswoman Lili Sulistyowati said by telephone text message.

Another official at the ministry's bird flu centre said the man, who had been suffering from a cough, fever and breathing difficulties, died while being transferred from a local hospital in Duri district to a hospital in Pekanbaru, the provincial capital.

''It is not clear about his contact with sick fowl, but our investigation team has been there,'' said Joko Suyono at the bird flu centre.

Bird flu is endemic in bird populations in most parts of Indonesia, where people often keep backyard chickens for meat and eggs or to supplement income.

Indonesia, which has had the most number of human deaths from the H5N1 virus globally, has had 133 confirmed human cases of the disease.

Including the latest fatality, there have been 206 deaths globally and 335 confirmed cases since 2003, according to World Health Organisation data.

Experts fear the constantly mutating virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world.

REUTERS JT DS1250

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