Indonesia reports fourth avian influenza death

Indonesian health officials recently reported the country's fourth human death this year caused by the avian influenza virus.

A 12-year-old boy recently died on the resort island of Bali. Rita Kusriastuti, the Indonesian health ministry's head of animal-borne infectious disease control, said that the boy was admitted to the hospital five days after the initial onset of fever, according to the AFP.

"He suffered shortness of breath and eventually died on February 21. Laboratory tests confirmed he died from the H5N1 virus," Kusriastuti said, AFP reports.

Fears concerning avian influenza have risen in Asia since China reported its first death from the illness in 18 months in late December.

The World Health Organization considers Indonesia to be the hardest hit from the bird flu. Between 2003 and 2011, there have been 150 deaths attributed to the disease. The Indonesian health ministry's website has recorded 154 deaths from H5N1 in the country since 2005.

The virus typically spreads from direct contact between birds and humans. Experts fear that it could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible in humans and potentially cause a pandemic that could conceivably kill millions. Over half of those known to be infected have died, though some experts have recently questioned the disease's lethality.