A research and laboratory test conducted by the Veterinary Center (BBVet) Yogyakarta has found that the avian flu that killed thousands of ducks in Yogyakarta, Central Java and East Java was a new strain of the H5N1 virus.
BBVet epidemiologist Putut Djoko Purnomo said that there were suspicions that the new avian flu strain was also attacking other species of birds including thousands of chickens in Yogyakarta.
“There have been reports on sudden chicken deaths, but we are still examining if they were caused by the new virus,” Putut said in Yogyakarta on Wednesday.
The new strain, the expert said, was identified as H5N1 clade 2.3, which reportedly only attacks ducks. It is described as more malignant than H5N1 clade 2.1, which had been killing chickens. The initial attack of this new virus in three provinces was noted in September 2012.
So far, 113,700 ducks have reportedly died because of the virus in the three provinces — Yogyakarta, Central Java and East Java — over the last four months. Some 64,000 were in Central Java, 45,000 in East Java and 4,700 in Yogyakarta.
As preventive measures, Putut suggested that farmers used disinfectant, culled infected birds and monitored bird traffic. Fumigation, he said, would not have significant results.
Indonesia, according to Putut, does not yet have the vaccine for the new virus, which was first found in Nepal in 2010 and was later spread by migratory birds to India, China and Japan. It spread throughout Asia and finally reached Indonesia by the end of this year.
The chairman of the Association of Local Poultry Breeders Yogyakarta, Ismartoyo, said most of the dead birds were found along river banks or coastal areas.
The virus outbreak has sharply affected duck farmers in Yogyakarta, especially as concerns have arisen that the eggs they source from Blitar and Kediri in East Java may have been infected.
Separately, the head of the West Java Animal Husbandry Agency, Koesmayadie Tatang Padmadinata said that up to mid December, 2,907 ducks had died after being infected with the new strain of the avian flu.
“The cases in Bekasi and Indramayu were positively caused by the new strain. The case in Subang is still waiting for examination results,” Koesmayadie said in Bandung on Wednesday, adding that the infected ducks in Indramayu had come from Brebes, Central Java.
West Java, he said, was home to some 9 million ducks, 38 million chickens bred for eggs and 87 millions of chickens bred for meat.
In anticipation of the possible spread of the new strain, the animal husbandry office distributed disinfectant all across the province, especially in regions where confirmed cases had been found.Mike Coston at Avian Flu Diary and FluTrackers reported this two weeks ago.