H5N1 ‘DIS­AS­TER’ IN KELANTAN

But traders must ob­serve strict clean­ing process, says health of­fi­cial

New Straits Times - - Front Page - SU­LAIMAN JAA­FAR AND SHAR­I­FAH MAHSINAH ABDULLAH KOTA BARU news@nst.com.my

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

PIC BY SYAMSI SUHAIMI

A poul­try breeder look­ing at his quar­an­tined farm in Kam­pung Tem­poyak, Pasir Mas, Kelantan, yes­ter­day.

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