Health authorities in cities across the nation are on the alert after a slew poultry deaths from a new strain of avian influenza.
The West Java Husbandry Agency, for instance, has intensified its supervision of poultry traffic after the deaths of 300,000 ducks in Central Java, East Java and West Java due to the rainy season and the suspected avian flu outbreak.
“We issued a circular on Dec. 10, 2012, to supervise and inspect poultry traffic and distribution, as well as to anticipate the bird flu virus,” Husbandry Agency chief T. Koesmayadi said as quoted by Antara news agency in Bandung, West Java.
“The agency has formed a special team to be on the alert around the clock,” he added.
Koesmayadi said that the agency was currently investigating reports of suspicious poultry deaths in the regencies of Bekasi and Indramayu. Inspectors have taken blood samples from 150 chickens and ducks for analysis, he added.
According to officials, 292 ducks have died in December in Tukdana in Indramayu, 615 ducks have died in Cangkol in Cirebon, Central Java, and more than 1,300 deaths were reported in Pakandangan, East Java.
Koesmayadi told residents and poultry farmers to wash their hands properly and apply appropriate bio-security measures, especially after directly handling poultry.
Meanwhile, the Tulungagung Husbandry Office in East Java has announced on Thursday that lab samples of mucus, blood and feces taken from dead ducks in the regency tested positive for the avian flu virus.
“We have obtained the lab test results from the animal health lab in Malang. It showed that the cause of death for the thousands of ducks in Gondang district and the surrounding areas, including Trenggalek, was due to the bird flu virus,” Tulungagung Husbandry Office head Sujono said.
Sujono said that the bird flu virus has mutated from the H5N1 clade 2.1 to a new strain, identified as H5N1 clade 2.3, that only attacks ducks.
He claimed that the new strain could not be transmitted to humans, echoed Koesmayadi comments for residents to tend to their personal hygiene when handling ducks and to raise bio-security measures to prevent the outbreak from escalating.It's news to me that clade 2.3 doesn't infect humans or chickens. I'll try to find out if this is indeed the case.