September 26, 2008


Indonesia reports decline in bird flu in poultry flocks

The number of bird flu outbreaks in Indonesia has been reduced significantly, according to an Indonesian agriculture ministry official.


The official was at a pandemic planning conference for businesses, held Thursday (25 September 2008).


The Jakarta Post reported that Muhammad Azhar, the agriculture ministry's avian influenza control coordinator said that only two of Indonesia's 31 provinces have not been hit by the virus, but pointed out that nine provinces have gone six months without reporting any new outbreaks.


Being the main producer of pedigree and non pedigree chickens, areas in Java Island are still at risk.


In March, a representative from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that H5N1 virus levels in Indonesia's poultry are so high that conditions might be ripe for viral mutation that could start an influenza pandemic. The FAO has said the disease is endemic in Java, Sumatra, and southern Sulawesi islands.


The FAO has said the country needs more resources and better coordination to improve surveillance and control of the virus, and that by June, the organization can train more than 2,000 response teams to work in more than 300 of Indonesia's 448 districts.


A health minister who spoke at the conference said the number of human H5N1 cases has also declined this year. Erna Tresnaningsih, the health ministry's director for animal-vector diseases, said Indonesia has recorded 20 H5N1 cases and 17 fatalities from the disease so far this year. She said the number appears to trail the numbers seen in 2006 (55 cases and 45 deaths) and 2007 (42 cases and 37 deaths).

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