JAKARTA, April 29 (Reuters) – A three-year-old boy from Indonesia’s main island of Java has died from bird flu, pushing the country’s total confirmed human cases to 108, a health ministry official said on Tuesday.
Lily Sulistyowati, the ministry’s spokeswoman, said in a statement that the boy from Manyaran village, Central Java, died on April 23 after suffering from respiratory problems.
Several chickens had suddenly died in the neighbourhood where the boy lived, Sulistyowati said, adding the boy had had contact with the birds.
Contact with sick fowl is the most common way of contracting the H5N1 bird flu virus, which is endemic in bird population in most of Indonesia.
The national bird flu commission said the virus had infected poultry in 31 out of 33 provinces in Indonesia. It said five provinces had not reported new cases in the past six months.
Experts say the danger is the virus might mutate into a form that people easily catch and pass to one another, in which case the transmission rate would soar, causing a pandemic in which millions of people could die.
Since the virus resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, it has killed 240 people in a dozen countries, the World Health Organisation says. Indonesia has the highest toll of any nation. (Reporting by Mita Valina Liem; Editing by David Fogarty)