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Wednesday June 6, 2007

Bird flu detected, culling begins


PUTRAJAYA: A case of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain has been detected in a village in Sg Buloh, the first incident in Malaysia after the outbreak in March last year. 

Agricultural and Agro-based Industries Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Zulkifli Idris said eight teams from the Veterinary Services Department had been dispatched to cull all chicken and birds within a 1km-radius of the village Kg Paya Jaras Hilir beginning 2pm Wednesday. 

Also affected were three other villages in the surrounding area - Kg Paya Jaras Hulu, Kg Jaras Dalam and Kg Kubu Gajah. 

Similarly at risk was the duck breeding centre ran by the department, located less than 300m from the site. 

"On Saturday (June 2), the Petaling veterinary office in Shah Alam received a complaint from a resident in the village that 60 of his chicken died suddenly in the past three days. 

"Our officers visited the site the following day and took samples from the sick animals for testing at the Petaling Jaya veterinary laboratory. 

"Initial testing showed that it was the virulent bird flu strain H5N1. This was subsequently confirmed by another round of testing at the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh. 

"We have put this case on ‘red alert’ throughout the country and all officers in the other states have been directed to monitor birds in their areas," he said here on Wednesday. 

The areas within 10Km radius of the affected villages would also be put on a three-month clinical surveillance for signs of any recurrence, added Dr Zulkifli. 

"The Health Ministry has been informed and they will take all the necessary steps to monitor the health conditions and symptoms of the residents living in the area," he pointed out. 

Dr Zulkifli said an estimated 2,000 birds and eggs, including chicken and ducks, would be culled in the operation. 

"This is an isolated case and there is no worry at present. We will attempt to clear the affected areas of any sick bird within 36 hours," he said, adding that Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is currently overseas, had been informed on the latest development. 

Dr Zulkifli said although the affected area was not involved in any export or import of chicken - the nearest commercial farm was 12km away - both the Federation of Livestock Farmers Association and the Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority had been informed of the measures taken by the Government. 

Dr Zulkifli said the department was still trying to trace the original source of the virus.

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