Indonesia Puts a Stop on Australian Poultry

INDONESIA - The government has decided to stop the import of poultry from Australia following notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about infectious diseases affecting poultry in the country. The death has been announced recently of the 192nd human victim from bird flu in Indonesia, following large outbreaks of the disease in ducks.
calendar icon 28 December 2012
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In its notification, the OIE has warned countries at risk, including Indonesia, to take steps to prevent the entry of poultry from Down Under, reports The Jakarta Post.

"We have decided to temporarily cease the import of poultry products from Australia. We will resume once the OIE lifts the notification," Agriculture Minister Suswono said after a meeting here on Thursday.

The Indonesian government is on high alert as a new strain of bird flu has killed over 150,000 ducks in 50 regencies and municipalities. As such, the government has been quick to respond to the OIE notification.

In March, Australia suspended live-cattle exports to Indonesia for a month after a video showing cows being beaten and whipped before slaughter was aired on Australian television.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Agung Laksono highlighted the increasing number of bird fatalities, especially ducks, which was causing social and economic unrest with many people starting to panic that the virus could transfer to humans.

"We haven't received any reports showing that the new avian influenza [H5N1] has infected humans. We have, overall, succeeded in controlling the virus as the number of bird flu cases — both in humans and animals — have continued to decrease," he told a press conference.

However, preparatory measures, monitoring and surveillance as well as control of avian flu within the country and across countries remains crucial to preventing a pandemic, Agung said.

The Jakarta Post reports that, as of 26 December, the new strain of bird flu — identified as H5N1 clade 2.3.2 — has killed 150,866 ducks in 50 regencies and municipalities in nine provinces, according to Agriculture Ministry statistics. The provinces are Banten, Central Java, East Java, Lampung, Riau, South Sulawesi, West Java, West Sulawesi and Yogyakarta.

Unlike the H5N1 clade 2.1.2 virus that kills chickens and humans, the H5N1 clade 2.3.2 affects ducks and other aquatic birds such as swans.

Last week, the Health Ministry announced the country's 192nd human case of bird flu. The clade 2.1.2 strain of the virus has been confirmed by the ministry as the cause of death for IT, a four-year-old boy from Parung Panjang, Bogor regency, West Java, on 6 December.

"There are no new clade 2.3.2 infections of humans in Indonesia," said Health Minister, Nafsiah Mboi.

According to the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary department, the most common clinical symptoms of infections caused by H5N1 clade 2.3.2 include spasms, difficulties in standing, decrease in appetite and eye whitening. Some 39.3 per cent of deaths recorded were young ducks.

The viruses can cause decreased egg production in adult ducks as well.

The H5N1 clade 2.3.2 can also infect Manila ducks, locally known as entog and indigenous chicken if they are kept in the same coop as infected ducks.

Minister Suswono said that the number of ducks infected with the H5N1 clade 2.3.2 virus had rapidly increased in December, causing an estimated 1.5 billion rupiah (IDR; US$155,247) in losses to owners.

"The number of ducks killed by this new strain of bird flu is still less than one per cent of the total number of ducks in this country," he said. The infection is, however, a rapidly mutating virus, he told The Jakarta Post.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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