Kelantan acts to stop spread of bird flu

Kelantan is taking steps to contain an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu.
Kelantan is taking steps to contain an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu. PHOTO: ST FILE

KOTA BARU (The Star/Asia News Network) - Kelantan has taken immediate measures including setting up road blocks to contain an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu after three cases were recorded in one village.

State agriculture committee chairman Che Abdullah Mat said on Wednesday (March 8) police help was sought to stop the trafficking of fowl within a 1-km radius of Kampung Pulau Tebu, where 15 kampung chickens were recently found dead.

"The Veterinary Services Department had since culled 170 fowl including chicken, ducks and birds, and destroyed 100 eggs in the affected village," he said.

He said culling activities were carried out on March 6.

"Just in case animal lovers try to smuggle the avians out of the vicinity to avoid culling, we have requested police to set up road blocks.

"This is a serious matter. We can't take risks that would take a toll on public health and the poultry industry," he said, adding Kelantan recorded the last avian flu outbreak in 2004.

H5N1, a strain that sparked widespread fear of bird flu in 2003, still occasionally kills a few people each year, and another, H5N8, is widely circulating in poultry in Europe and the Middle East, the New York Times reported earlier this month.

Cambodia and Bangladesh have in recent months also reported outbreaks of H5N1.

But no H5 strain has ever been transmitted easily among humans.

Che Abdullah said none of the chicken farms in Kelantan had been affected so far, therefore poultry in the state were "safe for consumption".

"The infection is contained in one kampung. The three positive cases were from neighbouring houses," he said.

"The authorities are still in the process of tracing the source of infection," he told newsmen at his office on Wednesday.

Che Abdullah said they have activated the state-level animal disease control action committee comprising representatives from various departments and agencies including police, local government, community leaders, State Veterinary Services Department, and Orang Asli Department.

"We are roping in orang asli to use blowpipes to kill wild fowl in the affected area," he said.

State Veterinary Department official, who briefed Che Abdullah, also confirmed that eight people including six laboratory workers exposed to the virus were quarantined for 24 hours at the Tumpat Hospital, as a precautionary measure.