Avian Influenza
WHO confirms 21st human bird flu death in Indonesia
Mar 10, 2006 - 9:24:37 PM

The WHO has confirmed that a four-year-old boy was Indonesia's 21st bird-flu fatality, a senior health ministry official said Friday.

Hariadi Wibosono, director for the control of animal-borne diseases, said tests at a WHO-approved US laboratory confirmed the boy died of the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed at least 97 people in seven countries since 2003.

The four-year-old, identified as Wahyu Kurniawan, died Feb 28 at Karyadi hospital in Semarang, central Java. The boy had a history of contact with chickens that had died near his home, a hospital official stated.

Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous nation, has confirmed eight deaths from bird flu so far this year, the highest of any country.

Indonesia began reporting human bird-flu cases last year. Since then, 29 infections have been confirmed, and eight people have recovered.

The virus has led to the culling of millions of chickens and ducks in Indonesia, many raised in backyards of rural and urban homes.

At present, almost all of the human fatalities contracted the virus from poultry, but experts worry that it could mutate into a virus that spreads from human to human that could potentially kill millions of people around the world.

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