Indonesian boy dies of bird flu

(Sep. 22, 2006) JAKARTA (Reuters) - An 11-year-old Indonesian boy has died of bird flu, the health ministry said Friday, taking the country's death toll from the disease to 50.

The boy died on Monday at a hospital in Tulungagung in East Java province, said Runizar Ruesin, the head of the ministry's bird flu information centre.

Tests by two local laboratories confirmed he had bird flu, he said.

"He had contact with dead chickens. Chickens have died in his house," Ruesin told Reuters, adding that the ministry would send officials to the area where the boy lived to investigate.

Indonesia has the highest bird flu death toll of any nation. Not including the latest death, the H5N1 avian flu virus has killed 144 people worldwide, the World Health Organisation says.

The H5N1 virus mainly affects birds but experts fear it could mutate into a strain capable of killing millions of people in a global pandemic.

Indonesia has been criticised for not doing enough to combat the disease, endemic in birds in most of the giant archipelago's provinces.

The United Nations bird flu coordinator, David Nabarro, said last week that Indonesia had made progress in its fight against the virus.

But he expressed disappointment at the slow flow of funds pledged by international donors to Indonesia for the effort.


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