An outbreak of the highly contagious H5N1 virus has been reported in Kelantan, notified the Agriculture Ministry to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The local outbreak follows the recent detection of H5N1 strain in Cambodia in recent weeks.

According to state Agriculture Committee chairman, Datuk Che Abdullah Mat, the last recorded avian flu outbreak in Kelantan was in 2004. Immediate measures have been taken to contain the avian flu outbreak, following three recorded cases of H5N1 in the village.

“The Veterinary Services Department has since culled 170 poultry including chicken, ducks and birds, and destroyed 100 eggs in the affected village,” said Che Abdullah, who added that the culling activities were performed on Monday.

Road blocks set up to prevent fowl trafficking

Among other measures, the state has also sought help from the police to set up road blocks to stop trafficking of fowl within a one kilometre radius of Kampung Pulau Tebu, where 15 chickens were recently found dead, said Che Abdullah.

“Just in case animal lovers try to smuggle the avians out of the vicinity to avoid culling, we have requested police to set up road blocks,” he explained.

"This is a serious matter. We can't take risks that would take a toll on public health and the poultry industry," he said, further confirming that the chicken farms in the state have not been affected, reassuring that poultry in the state were therefore safe for consumption.

"The infection is contained in one kampung. The three positive cases were from neighbouring houses," he added. "The authorities are still in the process of tracing the source of infection.”

Eight quarantined as precautionary measures to contain outbreak

As precautionary measure, eight individuals who have been exposed to the virus, including six laboratory workers, have been quarantined for 24 hours at the Tumpat Hospital reported officials at the state Veterinary Department.

According to Che Abdullah, authorities have also activated the animal disease control action committee at state-level, of which comprises police officials, local government, community leaders, the Veterinary Department as well as the Orang Asli Affairs Department.

"We are roping in orang asli to use blowpipes to kill wild avians in the affected area," he explained. MIMS

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