Bird flu kills Indonesian boy, death toll now 108

Business Materials 30 April 2008 10:35 (UTC +04:00)

A 3-year-old Indonesian boy has died from bird flu, raising the country's death toll from the H5N1 deadly disease to 108 - the world's highest, the health ministry said Wednesday.

The toddler, identified only as MS, from Central Java district of Wonogiri, first showed the flu-like symptoms of high fever and breathing difficulties on April 17, reported the dpa.

On April 23, he was brought to the Muwardi Hospital in Solo, where he died on the same day, the ministry said in a statement.

Two laboratory tests came back positive for the H5N1 virus, and health investigators found the child had a history of contact with dead poultry.

The boy's death bring Indonesia's bird-flu death toll to 108 among the 133 diagnosed human cases of H5N1, the strain of bird flu that can be deadly in people. Both figures are the highest in the world.

Before the latest death in Indonesia, the World Health Organization had confirmed at least 240 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.

Experts have warned that conditions in Indonesia such as a highly decentralized administration, under-resourced national veterinary services, lack of engagement with commercial poultry producers, insufficient financial and human resources and a difficulty in informing people of the dangers of the disease were hampering efforts to eradicate it.