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Indonesian tests say girl died of bird flu
Brother was buried before being tested.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Local tests showed a 7-year-old girl has died of bird flu, a health official said today, the latest in a series of cases that are putting Indonesia on pace to become the world’s hardest-hit country.

The World Health Organization has yet to confirm the death, which would bring the country’s official death toll from the H5N1 virus to 37.

The girl, from Pamulang on the outskirts of Jakarta, died late yesterday after apparently coming into contact with sick poultry, said Nyoman Kandun, a senior Health Ministry official.

The girl’s 10-year-old brother died Monday with similar flu-like symptoms, but no samples were taken, said Hariadi Wibisono, a senior official at the national Health Department.

The boy died in an emergency room before being treated, and the family immediately took him home for burial, he said.

"The family reported that chickens died near their house, and we have been told they had contact with birds," Wibisono said.

The children’s father said he was aware of bird flu but had no idea the virus was circulating near the family’s house.

"I am very shocked. I do not understand how bird flu occurred in my neighborhood," said Suryoto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

"This internationally known disease took away my lovely children only in days, less then a week," he said.

He said his son fell ill with a fever after playing soccer with other children near their home. When it became difficult for the boy to breathe, Suryoto rushed him to a hospital, but it was too late.

"He died before the doctor could do something for him," Suryoto said.

Meanwhile, Bayu Khrisnamurti, secretary-general of the National Committee of Avian Flu Control, said a mass poultry slaughter would begin soon in the North Sumatra village of Kubu Simbelang.

The village attracted international attention last month after six members of a family died of bird flu and a seventh fell ill. An eighth family member was buried before samples were collected, but WHO considers her part of the cluster of cases - the largest ever reported.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Copyright © 2006 The Columbia Daily Tribune. All Rights Reserved.

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