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Indonesian boy dies of bird flu, local tests show

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, Mar 4: A three-year-old boy from Indonesia's Central Java province has died of bird flu, a senior health official said today, citing the results of local tests.

If confirmed by a UN-recognised laboratory, the boy would be the country's 21st death from the H5N1 virus, which is now endemic in poultry in the world's fourth most populous nation.

''A local test of (the boy) who died yesterday or a day before yesterday, was positive,'' Hariadi Wibisono, Director of control of animal-borne diseases at the national health ministry, told Reuters.

A sample of the boy's blood has been sent to a laboratory in Hong Kong recognised by the World Health Organisation for confirmation, he added.

The boy had been in contact with fowl, according to initial information. Contact with infected birds is the most common means of transmission of the H5N1 virus to humans.

Bird flu has killed at least 94 people in East Asia and the Middle East since late 2003 and scientists fear the virus could mutate and spread easily from person to person, triggering a pandemic.


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