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Ciptapangan Visitor
Flu killing more poultry in West Java
posted by admin on 07/09/06

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

The number of poultry that died of avian influenza in West Java over the first eight months of this year increased threefold from the previous year, an official said.

Rachmat Setiadi, head of the West Java Animal Husbandry Office, said Tuesday as many as 63,121 birds died from the H5N1 virus between January and August this year. In the corresponding period in 2005 that figure was 21,544.

Lax supervision of poultry in mayoralties and regencies is believed to have contributed to the dramatic spread of the H5N1 virus -- from 16 to 20 of the 25 mayoralties and regencies in West Java.

"There are only two checkpoints to monitor the traffic of poultry throughout the province, and it's hard to monitor poultry slaughterhouses, most of which are unlicensed," Rachmat said in the provincial capital Bandung.

Earlier this year there was an outbreak of the deadly virus in birds in Cikelet, Garut. And over the past month almost 500 chickens and ducks have died around Cipasung village in Kuningan regency.

Seven chickens and ducks were tested in this latest outbreak and all were positive for the H5N1 virus. The provincial animal husbandry office has culled birds in and around the village, and has banned poultry from entering or leaving the regency for the next three months.

On Monday, a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler suspected of having bird flu was rushed to Hasan Sadikin General Hospital in Bandung. The toddler's family lives in Cipasung.

The deputy head of the hospital's bird flu prevention unit, Djatnika Setiabudi, said the toddler was improving, with his temperature returning almost to normal. However, he is still showing symptoms of pneumonia.

"We have sent serum and pus samples and are still awaiting for the results from Jakarta," Djatnika said.

Husbandry office head Rachmat said West Java had only two checkpoints for poultry entering and leaving the province -- in the eastern zone near the border with Central Java in Losari, Indramayu, and in the southern zone in Banjar. The supervision of poultry moving between mayoralties and regencies is the authority of local administrations.

"Most of the areas without checkpoints directly conduct inspections at markets and slaughterhouses," Rachmat said.

He said there was only one case of poultry deaths reported at large-scale commercial farms (more than 10,000 chickens). This case involved 50,000 chickens in Warung Kondang, Cianjur, earlier this year. The office's main difficulty is in monitoring chickens raised by residents at their homes.

"The number of chickens (in West Java) reaches 31 million, but some of them have been culled, including 5,000 in Cikelet, Garut," Rachmat said.

He said more intensive supervision would be carried out on the millions of egg-laying chickens, chickens raised for their meat and around five million ducks.

Apart from continuing the drive to inform residents of the need to locate chicken coops away from their houses, the animal husbandry office also plans to beef up inspections by setting up three poultry checkpoints in cities bordering Banten province: Bogor, Tangerang and Sukabumi. It will also set up checkpoints in Depok and Bekasi, which border Jakarta.

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