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Indonesia's Bird Flu Death Toll Climbs to 50 After Boy Dies
posted by admin on 25/09/06

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 144 people world-wide

Associated Press
September 22, 2006 1:47 p.m.

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's bird flu death toll climbed to 50 Friday after laboratory tests showed an 11-year-old boy died of the disease, a senior health official said.

The child died in a hospital in Tulungagung, East Java province on Monday, hours after he was admitted and two days after developing symptoms of the disease, said Nyoman Kandun. He appeared to have had contact with infected poultry.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 144 people world-wide since it started ravaging poultry stocks in Asia three years ago, according to the World Health Organization, which hasn't yet updated its Web site with the boy's death.

Most human deaths have been traced to contact with sick birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a more transmissible form, potentially causing a deadly global pandemic.

Indonesia, which has tallied more deaths from bird flu than any other nation, attracted international criticism earlier this year for not doing enough to stamp out the virus in its vast poultry stocks.

But David Nabarro, the United Nation's coordinator for avian and pandemic influenza, said last week the government had made improvements in recent months, increasing vaccinations, surveillance and culling. It also was working hard to warn citizens of the dangers posed by the virus, he said, promising to urge the international community to release badly needed funds to help Indonesia fight the disease.

World Bank Clears $13 Million to Fight Virus

The World Bank has approved a $13 million grant to help combat the threat of bird flu in the West Bank and Gaza, the development institution announced Friday.

The money "will assist the Palestinian Authority to improve their readiness and protect the citizens from a potentially devastating threat as the migration season is around the corner," said Arif Zulfiqar, head of the World Bank's department's that handles grant applications.

The World Bank said that in April the bird-flu virus was confirmed across eight locations in Gaza. "The proximity of outbreaks in neighboring countries, coupled with a large volume of bird migrations, increases the probability of a spread of the virus among domestic poultry and thus places the West Bank and Gaza at high risk," the development bank said.

Of the $13 million being provided in Friday's announcement, $3 million is coming from the World Bank's Avian and Human Influenza Facility, a multidonor financing mechanism set up earlier this year, while the remaining $10 million is coming from the World Bank's own resources.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Associated Press

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