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Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Indonesia bird flu toll hits 50
Chicken at a market in North Sumatra, Indonesia
Human bird flu is most commonly transferred from poultry
An 11-year-old boy has become Indonesia's 50th victim of birth flu, health officials say.

The child died at hospital in Tulungagung, East Java, on Monday, after developing a fever and cough and suffering breathing difficulties.

Tests by two laboratories confirmed he had the disease, officials said.

Indonesia has the world's highest human death toll from the H5N1 virus, and has registered more bird flu deaths this year than any other nation.

Runizar Ruesin, of the health ministry's bird flu information centre, said the boy had "contact with dead chickens".

"Chickens have died in his house," he told Reuters news agency.

The disease is endemic in poultry across most of the country, and transmission from poultry is the main cause of human bird flu.

There are fears the virus could mutate to a form which could be easily passed from human to human, triggering a pandemic and potentially putting millions of lives at risk.

Bird flu has claimed the lives of more than 140 people worldwide since late 2003. Most of the deaths have been in East Asia, but the virus has also spread to Europe, Africa and South and Central Asia.

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