INDONESIA: Indonesia to cull chickens in fight against bird flu
Indonesia is to slaughter all chickens on farms hit by bird flu in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, the country's agriculture minister said today (Thursday), according to the Guardian newspaper's website.
The Indonesian government had previously resisted calls for a mass culling despite the disease having infected millions of chickens over the past two years. To date, only sick birds have been slaughtered.
However, after the country's first three human deaths from bird flu were confirmed yesterday, officials decided all infected birds should be culled.
"We can't take any risks now," Anton Apriyantono, the agriculture minister, said. Mr Apriyantono added that all farmers would be compensated for losses arising from the mass slaughter.
The first humans to die from bird flu in Indonesia were a father and his two young daughters, who lived in a suburb of Jakarta. Tests confirmed they were infected with the H5N1 virus, Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian health minister, said.
The virus has also been identified in frozen duck meat - intended for human consumption - that was shipped from China to Japan in 2003.
A recent study by a team of Japanese researchers found a form of H5N1 was discovered in duck exported from the Shandong province to Japan two years ago.
However, the study, published in the online journal Virology, concluded that the strain of the virus identified in the meat was slightly different to the H5N1 type found in humans.
The World Health Organisation confirmed this was not the first time the virus had been found in processed meat, but said it posed no risk to consumers as long as precautions - such as washing hands and surfaces frequently - were taken.
The three deaths in Indonesia earlier this month mean at least 57 people have now died from the disease, with fatalities also having been recorded in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.
However, the father and his daughters did not keep chickens, raising the possibility that the virus has mutated and can now be passed from one human to another.
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