( dpa ) - An eight-year-old boy from West Java's Banten province died Friday from the H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus, bringing Indonesia's bird flu death toll to 97, the world's highest, Health Ministry officials said.
The boy, identified only by his initials, ST, was from Tanggerang district town, just west of Jakarta, and died at around 2 pm (0700 GMT) Friday at Jakarta's Sulianto Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital, said Joko Suyono, an official at the ministry's bird flu information centre.
The boy fell sick January 7 and sought medical treatment on January 16 at Cengkareng Hospital in western Jakarta before being admitted Thursday to Sulianti Saroso Hospital, designated to treat bird flu patients in Jakarta and surrounding areas.
"Test results confirm he had been suffering from bird flu," Suyono said
Investigators were still trying to determine how the boy was exposed to the virus, the official said, adding that a chicken slaughtering site was located in his neighbourhood.
His death was Indonesia's 97th out of 119 diagnosed cases of H5N1, the strain of bird flu that can be deadly in humans. Both figures are the highest in the world.
Before the latest death in Indonesia, the World Health Organization had confirmed at least 217 deaths in 12 countries in Asia and Africa.
The most common way to contract the H5N1 virus is through contact with infected fowl. Although bird flu remains mainly an animal disease, experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that could spread easily from human to human, turning into a pandemic that could kill millions of people.