Swiftlet farming can be a health hazard


  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011

I REFER to ‘Heritage states in danger’ (The Star, Feb 24), and am concerned over the conversion of heritage buildings for swiftlet breeding.

Just to obtain the World Heritage site by Unesco, states have to meet various criteria and exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture, technology, monumental art, town-planning or landscape design.

The swiftlet houses mostly have to be sealed and continously moistened to provide a conducive environment for the swiftlets. Moreover, swiftlet farmers in Penang buy these buildings as they more affordable than building a swiftlet farm in an agricultural area.

When they move in, they tear down the original windows and doors and seal all the openings.

This results in the authenticity of heritage premises being damaged.

To attract the swiftlets, the premises have to be installed with expensive and sophisticated audio systems, that create some noise pollution.

This sound is not natural and causes sleepless nights for residents and visitors.

One can view such buildings not only in Penang, but in towns like Ipoh, Taiping, Sitiawan and Kampar.

Many are not aware that these swiftlets carry dangerous viruses.

Cryptococcus is found in the birds dropping. and when dried bird droppings are stirred up, dust containing Cryptococcus circulate in the air.

The generalised form of Cryptococcus causes lung infection and spreads to other areas of the body, and can result in death.

Swiftlet farming is good for investors if it is harvested in an agricultural area, but certainly not in urban areas.

S. SUNDRALINGAM,

Ipoh.

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