Bird flu kills 3-year-old boy, bring Indonesia's death toll to 105

( dpa ) - A 3-year-old Indonesian boy has died from bird flu, bringing the country's human death toll from the H5N1 strain of the deadly virus to 105, the Health Ministry announced on Monday.

The boy, identified only as Han from the capital Jakarta, died on Friday at Persahabatan, an hospital designated to treat bird-flu patients in the city and surrounding areas, said the Health Ministry on its website.

It said the victim developed symptoms on February 5 and sought medical treatment in South Jakarta's Fatmawati hospital the following day where he was treated for four days. He was then moved to two different hospitals before he was brought to Persahabatan hospital on February 15. He died after only two hours of being treated there.

Laboratory tests confirmed the boy had the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu, the ministry said.

An investigation team was deployed and found out that the boy was living close to several areas where chickens were slaughtered or collected before being transferred from nearby areas, it said.

The latest death brings Indonesia's bird-flu death toll to 105 among the 128 diagnosed human cases of H5N1, the strain of bird flu that can be deadly in people. Both figures are the highest in the world.

Experts said that the further confirmed bird-flu deaths show that the virus could be out of control in the vast archipelago, and they accuse the government of not being serious in attempting to contain the spread of the virus.

On Saturday, a 16-year-old Indonesian boy from Central Java province died of bird flu, the Health Ministry said, explaining that the victim's neighbours had sick chickens on their property and the boy apparently slaughtered some of them before he became ill.

Avian influenza has been particularly prevalent in municipalities surrounding Jakarta, with the Tangerang district - just west of the capital - of particular concern with its large population living close to poultry.

Before the latest deaths in Indonesia, the World Health Organization had confirmed at least 227 deaths in 12 countries in Asia and Africa.

The most common way to contract the H5N1 virus is through human contact with infected fowl. Bird flu remains mainly an animal disease, but experts fear that the virus could mutate into a form that could spread easily from human to human, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions of people around the world.

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