Jakarta culls backyard birds

Mayor claims victory over bird flu but free-roaming fowl spotted in suburbs.

    City officials are forcibly removing backyard birds to "cut the chain of transmission" [Reuters]
    Muhayat said: "I can guarantee there are no backyard birds in Central Jakarta. The people here are now fully aware of the disease and voluntarily culled their birds."
    Jakarta residents have volunteered their backyard fowl, some 100,000 chickens, racing pigeons and ducks, for culling in recent weeks.
    Sutiyoso, the governor, said he was happy with the public response to the campaign against the deadly virus which claimed its latest victim, a six-year-old girl from central Java, on January 19.
    He said the authorities will show no tolerance for backyard birds or fowl in Jakarta.
    "People have to choose between the lives of their loved ones and the lives of their pets. Any found running loose will be killed."
    Continued threat
    But the sighting of free-roaming birds in Jakarta's suburban neighbourhoods has cast serious doubts on the campaign.

    Indonesian officials carrying away 
    bird cages to be destroyed [EPA]

    Lulu Anisa, 32, a housewife, said that while her chickens were seized by officials and culled on Thursday, "many residents managed to hide their birds".
    There are also fears that corrupt and underpaid officials may be susceptible to bribes and not enforce the cull.
    Indonesia has tallied 64 human deaths, nearly a third of the world's total, out of 82 bird flu infections.
    It came under criticism for failing to crack down on bird flu when it first appeared nearly four years ago, but has since taken more concerted steps to stamp out the H5N1 virus.
    The virus has prompted the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia since late 2003, and caused the deaths of at least 164 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.
    Most people killed so far have been infected by domestic fowl and the virus remains hard to trace. Experts fear it could mutate into a form that easily spreads among humans, sparking a pandemic with the potential to kill millions.
    Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country and home to 350 million backyard birds, is seen as a potential spot for that to happen because of its high urban density.
    Siti Fadilah Supari, Indonesia's health minister, said the government was considering naming bird flu a national disaster, a step that would facilitate funding from the state's disaster fund.
    Thai outbreak
    Separately, Thailand’s livestock department announced the country's second outbreak of bird flu in just over a week.
    The fresh outbreak was confirmed by laboratory results on Thursday following the deaths on January 23 of six chickens in a village in Ang Thong province, 80km east of Bangkok, Nirand Uaebumrungsut, a veterinarian with the agriculture ministry's department of livestock development, said.
    The authorities reported detecting bird flu in hens in northeastern Thailand on January 23.
    The infected chickens all belonged to one family, and another dozen birds in the immediate area were slaughtered, officials said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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