11 December 2012
has identified the bird flu virus that killed hundreds of thousands of
ducks in recent weeks as a more virulent type which is new to the
country, according to a letter seen Tuesday.
"We found a highly
pathogenic avian influenza sub-type H5N1 (virus) with clade 2.3..." the
agriculture ministry's veterinary chief Syukur Iwantoro said in the
letter obtained by AFP.
"This clade is a new clade found for the
first time in Indonesia, that is very different to the avian influenza
found before, which is clade 2.1."
A clade is a group of organisms, usually species, with a common ancestor.
poultry breeders' association had reported the death of more than
300,000 ducks in several provinces on Java island since November to the
The veterinary office found the H5N1 virus involved was
a different clade to that usually found in Indonesia, said Iwantoro's
letter to local government offices and the World Health Organisation
Iwantoro called for further research into whether there
had been a genetic shift in the virus previously found in the country,
or whether the new strain originated overseas.
"There is a
suspicion that the virus has spread from other countries, possibly from
Vietnam or Thailand," Emil Agustiono, secretary of the national
commission of zoonosis control that oversees bird flu, told AFP. [They might want to read my blog..it's been in Vietnam...]
officials have told local governments to stop and check motorbikes and
pick-up trucks commonly used to transport poultry, to try to reduce the
spread of the virus.
The health ministry has told local offices
to be vigilant for more massive poultry deaths, or for deaths of people
in the vicinity, its head of communicable disease Tjandra Yoga Aditama
Bird flu typically spreads from birds to humans through
direct contact, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that is
easily transmissible between humans.
Indonesia has suffered the
world's worst human fatalities from bird flu with 159 deaths since 2003
out of 359 worldwide, according to the WHO.