H5N1 ‘DISASTER’ IN KELANTAN
But traders must observe strict cleaning process, says health official
THE state government makes the declaration as the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus spreads to two more districts. The move allows the mobilisation of state resources to control the outbreak. More than 24,000 birds have been culled so far.
CHICKEN remains safe to consume even as the Kelantan government declares the H5N1 avian flu outbreak a state disaster. State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry and Biotechnology Committee chairman Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi said yesterday the declaration was made under Order 20 of the National Security Council after the virus spread to four districts.
The outbreak was handled by the Veterinary Services Department, but with the declaration, the resources of relevant state departments will now be utilised.
Health authorities assured that chicken was safe for consumption, but retailers needed to observe a strict regime in preparing the poultry.
“Besides Kota Baru and Pasir Mas, the flu has spread to Pasir Puteh and Bachok,” Che Abdullah said after the state executive council meeting here yesterday.
He said besides Kampung Pulau Tebu in Tunjong here, which was the source of the avian flu, it had spread to 17 other villages in the Kota Baru district.
In Pasir Mas, Kampung Becah Semak, Kampung Tempoyak and Kampung Kedondong were affected. Kampung Bukit Merbau in Pasir Puteh and Kampung Dusun Durian in Bachok were the other areas affected.
“At present, the virus has not spread to humans. The Health Department had sent teams to check individuals exposed to the infected birds and, so far, it is negative,” Che Abdullah said.
As of Tuesday, he said, 23,678 birds had been culled. The owners of the birds would be compensated as the state government had formed a committee for the purpose.
Veterinary director-general Datuk Dr Kamaruddin Md Isa said on Tuesday, 148 department staff from other states in the Peninsula had been sent to Kelantan to help contain the outbreak.
State Health director Datuk Dr Ahmad Razin Ahmad Maher said the public need not worry as it was rare for the virus to affect human.
“Chicken in the market is safe to eat as long as traders continue to use treated water during the cleaning process. They must also ensure that the chicken is not put on the floor.
“The public should not fear as infection will only happen if an individual comes in direct contact with a chicken that had been infected by the virus.”
Meanwhile, chicken traders are complaining of poorer sales since early this week, prompting them to sell the birds at a cheaper price.
Trader Azim Bakar said he suffered losses since the outbreak.
“Before this, I would get 20 to 25 customers a day, but since early this week, the number had dropped by half. It is a difficult time for me as it is my only source of income,” said the 28-year-old from Pasir Tumboh.
Fellow trader Mohd Sufian Abdul Hamid, of Kampung Kota here, said he had to sell his chickens for as low as RM5 per kg to attract customers.
“Before this, even my regular clients refused to buy them because they were afraid of the virus.”
At present, the virus has not spread to humans. DATUK CHE ABDULLAH MAT NAWI Kelantan Agriculture, Agrobased Industry and Biotechnology Committee chairman
A poultry breeder looking at his quarantined farm in Kampung Tempoyak, Pasir Mas, Kelantan, yesterday.