Indonesian health officials have downplayed concerns over a fresh outbreak of avian influenza which has killed some 160,000 reared ducks since September 2012.
“So far no Indonesians have been infected by the new clade [virus group] of the H5N1 virus,” Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the director of disease control and public health at the Health Ministry, told IRIN.
“The outbreak has only affected ducks. There have been no known cases in humans,” said Muhammad Azhar, coordinator of the Avian Influenza Disease Control Unit. "We have taken necessary measures to control the outbreak."
More than a dozen subsets of the H5N1 virus have been identified - with numerous variants within each clade. Although new to Indonesia, clade 2.3.2 H5N1 has been circulating across Asia for several years, say experts.
Reared ducks began dying on Indonesia’s populous Java Island in September, with the disease spreading to 80 villages in 12 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces. Affected ducks show clinical symptoms such as torticollis, paralysis, seizures, incoordination, and sudden death.
Most poultry kept by Indonesians are chickens; only a small minority keep ducks.
“The origin of the infection was apparently uncertified imported ducks,” said Emil Agustiono, head of the National Commission on Zoonosis. “But luckily we have discovered the vaccine [for poultry] and will start production in February. For now we’re using the old vaccine and it’s still effective.”
The government needs at least another 25 million doses of the H5N1 clade 2.3.2 vaccine, and will compensate farmers affected by the outbreak, though the amount of compensation has not been decided, he added.