Malaysia has been declared free from avian influenza, three months after the deadly virus was detected in poultry from a village in the central Selangor state, a minister announced Monday.
AdvertisementIn June, the H5N1 strain of bird flu was discovered after a poultry rearer from the Paya Jaras Hilir village in Selangor, next to the capital Kuala Lumpur, reported that 60 of his chickens had suddenly died over three days. Health ministry officials immediately screened villagers and conducted checks on all birds and poultry. 'The prompt action by the Veterinary Services Department to stamp out the bird flu outbreak according to the protocol had been effective,' said agriculture minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Following three months of surveillance and laboratory tests that have not shown any traces of the virus, the country had fulfilled conditions set by the World Organisation for Animal Health and has been 'declared free from the disease', Muhyiddin was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency. Following the outbreak in June, a total of 4,226 chicken, ducks and other birds were culled, incurring a cost of 39,939 ringgit ($11,735) in compensation paid out to the livestock owners, he said. Muhyiddin said the government was still taking preventive measures against the virus, such as conducting checks on poultry farms, prohibiting the import of chicken, ducks and other birds from countries affected by the disease and intensifying checks at border checkpoints to curb smuggling. 'The government has so far spent almost 10 million ringgit ($2.9 million dollars) in compensation to the affected poultry rearers'. 'Almost 80,000 birds were culled since the first bird flu case was detected in 2004,' he said. Following news of June's outbreak, neighbouring Singapore stopped import of poultry and eggs from the affected area. Malaysia has suffered no known human infections from the deadly virus.