Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

FAO concerned about bird flu spread in Indonesia - Assistance for improved bird flu control strategy offered

22 Sep 2005 -- Bangkok/Rome - FAO is concerned about the spread of avian influenza in Indonesia and has offered further assistance to control the virus in the country.

"Avian influenza has become endemic in Indonesia and it is continuing to spread," said FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech.

"In view of the worrying situation, it is necessary for the government to improve its virus control policies and strategies," Domenech said.

The fight against bird flu should become a national priority and veterinary and civil authorities should be provided with the full power to enforce disease control measures.

Local veterinary services should be strengthened to enable them to discover disease outbreaks at a very early stage and to immediately carry out control measures such as culling and targeted vaccination in high risk areas.

The national vaccination strategy should be reviewed to ensure that only quality vaccines are used, in accordance with the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) standards.

More financial resources should be made available for the control of bird flu in animals to prevent a human pandemic. Four people have died of bird flu in Indonesia and others are suspected of having the virus.

The involvement of the around 30 million backyard village households keeping around 200 million chickens would be a major challenge, FAO said. Major public awareness campaigns should be launched to inform farmers about risks and control strategies.

The spread of the virus through marketing channels especially in densely populated areas such as Java should be further investigated. "We need to better understand the specific disease dynamics in the country," Domenech said.

Together with the Indonesian government, FAO is currently developing a national avian influenza control project that will require around $11 million.

For more information contact Erwin Northoff, FAO information officer in Rome at (+39-06)570.53105

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