Government Accused of Easing Up on Bird Flu

Waning efforts to control the spread of Avian Influenza, including separating poultry farms from residential areas, may be behind the recent increase in human bird flu cases, a ministry official says. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the director general of disease control and environmental health at the Health Ministry, said on Wednesday that the H5N1 virus would continue to infect humans as long as there were no serious efforts to curb infections in poultry.

“It is a question of whether we can completely destroy the virus in poultry,” Tjandra told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

However, it was reported that two children in Bangli regency, Bali, died of the disease on Sunday night. The Health Ministry has yet to confirm whether the victims had contact with poultry.

I Putu Sumantra, head of Bali’s animal husbandry department, said on Wednesday that bird flu outbreaks among poultry had spread to eight regencies and municipalities in Bali. So far, Gianyar is the only regency in Bali that has stayed clear of the disease.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi denied that there had been a decline in efforts to curb cases of Avian Influenza in poultry.

“We have tackled the cases by carrying out several measures such as vaccinating chickens in poultry farms and requiring that people separate poultry farms and human settlements, resulting in a decreased number of bird flu cases from 2007-2009,” he said via text message.

The former chief of the now-defunct national commission to curb bird flu said that the disease was under control.

“But it’s quite difficult to completely stop the spread of the H5N1 virus in animals,” he said, adding that the influenza virus had been first discovered in 1930 but was still around now.


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