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Indonesian baby girl dies of bird flu, local tests show

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, Mar 25 (Reuters) A one-year-old girl from west Jakarta has died of bird flu, a senior health official said today, citing the results of local tests.

If confirmed by a U.N.-recognised laboratory, the girl would be the country's 23rd death from the H5N1 virus, which is now endemic in poultry in the world's fourth most populous nation.

''I just got information a local test showed positive (for H5N1) for a one-year-old girl,'' Hariadi Wibisono, director general of control of animal-borne diseases at the national health ministry, told Reuters.

She died on Thursday, shortly after coming into a Jakarta hospital emergency room, he said.

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

It was not immediately clear whether the girl had been in contact with fowl. Contact with infected birds is the most common means of transmission of the H5N1 virus to humans.

Bird flu has killed at least 105 people globally since it re-emerged in Asia in late 2003, according to WHO. The bird toll consists of some 200 million birds which have died from the disease or been culled.

Scientists fear the virus could mutate and spread easily from person to person, triggering a pandemic.

Reuters CH DB1241

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