The government of Indonesia has decided to stop the import of poultry from Australia following a notification from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) about infectious diseases affecting poultry in the country.
In its notification, the OIE has warned countries at risk, including Indonesia, to take steps to prevent the entry of poultry from Down Under.
The Indonesian government is on high alert as a new strain of bird flu has killed over 150,000 ducks in 50 regencies and municipalities. As such, the government has been quick to respond to the OIE notification.
Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono highlighted the increasing number of bird fatalities, especially ducks, which was causing social and economic unrest with many people starting to panic that the virus could transfer to humans. However, preparatory measures, monitoring and surveillance as well as control of avian flu within the country and across countries remains crucial to preventing a pandemic, Agung said.
As of 26 December, the new strain of bird flu - identified as H5N1 clade 2.3.2 - has killed 150,866 ducks in 50 regencies and municipalities in nine provinces, according to Agriculture Ministry statistics. The provinces are Banten, Central Java, East Java, Lampung, Riau, South Sulawesi, West Java, West Sulawesi and Yogyakarta.
Unlike the H5N1 clade 2.1.2 virus that kills chickens and humans, the H5N1 clade 2.3.2 affects ducks and other aquatic birds such as swans.
Last week, the Health Ministry announced the country's 192nd human case of bird flu. The clade 2.1.2 strain of the virus has been confirmed by the ministry as the cause of death for IT, a 4-year-old boy from Parung Panjang, Bogor regency, West Java, on 6 December.
According to the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary department, the most common clinical symptoms of infections caused by H5N1 clade 2.3.2 include spasms, difficulties in standing, decrease in appetite and eye whitening. Some 39.3% of deaths recorded were young ducks.
The viruses can cause decreased egg production in adult ducks as well.
The H5N1 clade 2.3.2 can also infect Manila ducks, locally known as entog and indigenous chicken if they are kept in the same coop as infected ducks.
Source: Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia