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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Seventh Indonesian bird flu death
 A young Indonesian boy plays with pigeons on September 28, 2005, in Jakarta, Indonesia
Indonesians often live closely with their birds
Doctors in Jakarta have confirmed that a seventh Indonesian person has died of bird flu.

Slamet Wibowo, 23, is said to have died at the city's hospital for infectious diseases last Thursday, after tests showed he had contracted the virus.

Samples of his blood are being sent to Hong Kong for confirmation at a World Health Organization (WHO) laboratory.

The deadly disease has already killed dozens of people across Asia, and led to millions of birds being culled.

There is so far no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but health officials fear that if the virus combines with the human influenza virus, it could become highly infectious and lead to a global flu pandemic.

Laboratory tests

Mr Wibowo registered positive for bird flu virus in both clinical and blood tests soon after being admitted to the hospital in Jakarta, spokesman Ilham Patu told the French news agency AFP.

He is known to have had direct contact with birds before becoming ill.

Principally an avian disease, first seen in humans in Hong Kong, 1997
Almost all human cases thought to be contracted from birds
Isolated cases of human-to-human transmission in Hong Kong and Vietnam, but none confirmed

The WHO - which has its own testing procedures, separate from tests carried out by regional experts - has so far only confirmed four cases in Indonesia, three of whom have died.

But Mr Wibowo's death is the seventh reported by doctors in Jakarta, and there are also several other deaths which the authorities suspect could be due to bird flu.

More than 60 people in Indonesia are now either confirmed to be, or suspected of, suffering from the disease, according to Indonesian media reports.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Wednesday that Australia would host a meeting of bird flu experts at the end of October, to discuss the rise of the disease.

"The objective of the meeting is to ensure a swift and co-ordinated regional response to contain any outbreak of avian influenza," Mr Downer told reporters.

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