Despite continuous efforts to curb the spread of the bird flu virus with spray and vaccination drives, in Bali's provincial capital of Denpasar dead fowl were found just 2 kilometers away from the mayor's office.
Head of the City Animal Husbandry and Maritime Affairs Agency, Dewa Made Ngurah, confirmed Monday that his office had been caught off guard by the incident.
He said his office received a report from IB Ngurah Sucipta, a resident of Tegal Arum hamlet, Pamecutan Kelod village, at about 2 p.m. on Thursday. Sucipta is a fighting cock enthusiast and has 22 birds in his stable. He reported that eight of his cocks had died suddenly.
"My cocks died suddenly and I was afraid it was because of bird flu," he said.
"That is why I called the agency immediately, to get tests done."
Sucipta refused compensation for his dead cockerels. The city administration has allocated compensation of Rp 25,000 (US$2.09) for adult chickens and Rp 10,000 for young chickens.
Ngurah said he deployed a bird flu handling team to the location. The surviving 14 cocks were culled after their blood and brain samples were taken. The team also combed the houses of Sucipta's neighbors.
"We sprayed the houses with disinfectant, even though there were no chickens there, just to be safe," Ngurah said.
"We conducted a clinical test and found that the dead chickens tested positive for bird flu."
The agency, however, is still waiting for the official results from the Veterinary Health Center.
"Although clinically they were bird flu positive, legally we have to wait for the veterinary center's results," Ngurah said.
Denpasar is currently facing an outbreak of rabies and the agency is busy with a mass culling of stray dogs as well as vaccinating pet dogs.
Ngurah said his agency was visiting fowl and traditional markets in the city at least twice a week to spray disinfectant. Traders selling fowl have also been restricted so they may not mix with others.
Strict monitoring is being applied to fowl traffic entering Denpasar. Every vehicle carrying fowl is disinfected by officials.
"We have asked residents, through village heads and subdistrict heads, to remain on alert," Ngurah said.
"We will provide free disinfectant if they wish to spray their neighborhoods.
"However, it is difficult to keep track of chicken vendors in Denpasar whose numbers always increase ahead of Balinese Hindu holidays such as Galungan and Kuningan."
Ngurah said his agency would increase monitoring to tackle seasonal vendors.