Monday, February 7, 2011

Avian flu found, chicken meat banned in Sittwe

Monday, 07 February 2011 20:53 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – After finding the avian flu virus in  poultry farms in Sittwe in Rakhine State, chicken meat has been banned in the entire township until February 11, said the Rakhine State Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Department and Township Health Department.

Chicken is a favorite meat in Burma
and is prepared in many different
ways. Photo: Mizzima
‘They have imposed a 24-day ban since January 19. All chicken meat and eggs are banned during this period’, said a senior officer of Rakhine State Veterinary and Animal Husbandry.

He told Mizzima that a ‘highly pathogenic avian influenza’ (HPAI) was discovered in a poultry farm in Bumay Letthama village in Sittwe Township on January 12.

The authorities banned both consumption and trading of chicken meat and chicken products in the township from January 19 to February 11.

The health official warned that the ban order would be extended if the avian flu virus is found in new locations.

All chickens from 75 poultry farms within a one kilometer radius of the poultry farm in Bumay Letthama village, where the avian flu virus was first found, have been killed, packed in polythene bags, buried and sprayed with disinfectants, the official said.

‘Currently we are spraying insecticide and checking to see if the virus spreads. We have not yet allowed these poultry farms where we culled the chickens to be restocked with new chickens. We will allow new chickens only when they are virus free and the situation is under control’, he said.

He said a news release would be issued if the situation worsened.

Health department officials said that the inspections so far indicate that the HPAI virus has been found only in chickens and no infection of  humans have been reported.

In a related case, Dr. Saw Lwin, the deputy director of the Ministry of Health in Naypyidaw, said an avian flu virus was found on an egg-producing poultry farm in Bomya Ward in Tantse Township, Sagaing Division, on February 2.

Saw Lwin warned that livestock farms and poultry farms should not be located near residential areas, to prevent the development of a new strain of virus because of the proximity of different kinds of animals.

‘People infected with the flu virus should not enter a livestock farm infected with the avian flu virus otherwise the human flu virus and H5N1 virus could be integrated and could create a new strain of virus. A new strain of virus would represent more trouble to humans’, he said.

He said the avian flu can spread to humans if chicken is not cooked well, or if people eat viscera (innards) of the chicken or they handle infected chickens without protective gear.

‘If a new strain of virus is developed, it can spread  through human-to-human contact through the respiratory tract’, Saw Lwin told Mizzima.

The first case of avian flu in Burma was reported in 2006 when it infected a man in Kentung Township in southern Shan State. He was treated and survived.

According to a report issued by the World Health Organisation, 519 people were infected in 15 countries from 2003 to February 2, 2011. A total of 306 people died from the virus.

The avian flu is currently found in Burma, the Republic of Korea, Egypt, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China and Japan. The Food and Agriculture Organisation says that 63 countries reported detecting the virus from 2003 to February 3, 2011.

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