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    Indonesia becomes leader in human bird flu cases

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    A 29-year-old man died of bird flu in Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 74 and the official number of people infected with deadly virus to 94, a local health official said Saturday.

    JAKARTA, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - A 29-year-old man died of bird flu in Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 74 and the official number of people infected with deadly virus to 94, a local health official said Saturday.

    With the latest death, Indonesia has become the world leader in the number of human bird flu cases with the highest mortality rate - 78.7% - and the disease spreading rapidly among citizens of the 4th most populous country in the world.

    The Southeast Asian country  registered three bird flu deaths this week and five deaths last week raising concerns that it could become a potential "hotspot" for a bird flu pandemic that could kill, according to some experts, dozens of millions of people around the world in a matter of several weeks.

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bird flu has killed 171 people around the world since late 2003. The second hardest-hit country after Indonesia is Vietnam, where 93 human bird flu cases have been registered and the death toll hit 42.

    Meanwhile, Russia has recently completed the first phase of clinical trials for a human vaccine against the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus. Researchers said they had developed vaccine production techniques and that commercial production could be launched immediately in the event of a pandemic.

    So far, no human fatalities or cases of humans infected with the virus have been reported in Russia, where the first outbreaks were registered in southern provinces and in Siberia in 2005.

    The latest outbreak has been detected at several poultry farms in the Moscow Region in March. The area was quickly sealed off and the outbreak contained.

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