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Old 10-03-2006, 23:01   #1
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Post Indonesia: 22nd Bird Flu Death

Friday, March 10, 2006; Posted: 9:04 a.m. EST (14:04 GMT)

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Bird flu has killed its 22nd human victim in Indonesia, a 12-year-old girl, according to tests by the World Health Organization's Hong Kong laboratory, an Indonesian health ministry official said on Friday.

The confirmation came just hours after Indonesia reported its 21st human bird flu victim, a three-year-old child, according to tests by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The official said the 12-year-old girl had had contact with poultry. The three-year-old boy who died earlier this month in Indonesia's Central Java province, had also been in contact with fowl, according to initial information.

Contact with infected birds is the most common means of transmission of the H5N1 virus to humans.

"We have confirmation from the Hong Kong lab that Hanif, a 12-year-old girl from Boyolali in Central Java, died of bird flu. We now have 30 cases, with 22 of them dead," said Hariadi Wibisono, director-general of control of animal-borne disease at the health ministry.

Bird flu has killed at least 98 people in East Asia and the Middle East since late 2003 and scientists fear the virus could mutate and spread easily from person to person, triggering a pandemic that could kill millions and cripple economies.

Of Indonesia's internationally confirmed fatalities from the H5N1 virus, 11 have been in 2006, making it the country with the most bird flu deaths so far this year.

H5N1 has killed birds in more than 30 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa. It has spread to 14 new countries in the past month.

In Indonesia, the highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has affected birds in about two-thirds of the country's provinces.

Stamping out the virus is a huge, if not impossible, task in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of about 17,000 islands and 220 million people.

The government has resisted the mass culling of fowl seen in some other nations, citing the expense and the impracticality in a country where the keeping of a few chickens or ducks in backyards of homes is common in cities and on farms.

Agencies have concentrated instead on selective culling, and on public education and hygiene measures aimed at prevention.

A sweeping door-to-door campaign to try to control the disease in the capital Jakarta, the country's biggest city which along with its suburbs has about 12 million people, only got under way at the end of February.

Agriculture officials estimate that Jakarta alone has about 500,000 fowl.

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