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Indonesia reports 99th bird flu death

A nine-year-old Indonesian boy has died of bird flu, the health ministry said, bringing the toll to 99 in the nation worst hit by the virus.

world Updated: Jan 28, 2008 15:38 IST

A nine-year-old Indonesian boy has died of bird flu, the health ministry said Monday, bringing the toll to 99 in the nation worst hit by the virus.

The boy, from the Depok region on the outskirts of Jakarta, died on Sunday in the capital's Sulianto Saroso infectious diseases hospital, it said. He had been admitted to a local hospital on January 23 and transferred two days later.

"(The) total number of cumulative Asian Influenza human cases in Indonesia is 123 with 99 deaths," the ministry's bird flu information centre said in a statement.

Djoko, a doctor from the bird flu centre, told AFP the ministry was still trying to assess the risk of further infections in the boy's neighbourhood.

"Our teams are still on site, visiting his home and his neighbourhood, but so far we do not know yet whether the boy had any contact with infected poultry or birds," Joko said.

Humans are typically infected with bird flu by coming into direct contact with infected poultry, but experts fear the H5N1 virus may mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, sparking a deadly global pandemic.

The concern stems from past influenza pandemics. A pandemic in 1918, just after the end of World War I, killed 20 million people worldwide.

The virus is now endemic in birds across nearly all of Indonesia's 33 provinces.