Islands in focus: Bali
on alert over possible
avian flu threat

Denpasar: Despite the fact that no new avian flu virus has been detected in Bali, experts are calling upon people to remain alert.

Masa Tenaya, a senior researcher at the Bali Veterinary Research Center in Denpasar, confirmed that the deaths of thousands of poultry in Jembrana last weekend were caused by a seasonal poultry disease called Newcastle disease (ND).

“Researchers have not yet found any signs of a new avian flu virus, which spread widely in Java, causing the deaths of thousands of ducks,” said Tenaya.

Newcastle disease is a contagious disease affecting many domestic and wild avian species and it is transmissible to humans.

First found in Newcastle in the United Kingdom, it is caused by a virus—called Newcastle disease virus (NDV). Its effects are notable in domestic poultry due to their susceptibility.

The exposure of humans to infected birds can cause mild conjunctivitis and influenza-like symptoms, but the NDV poses no serious threat to humans.

Researchers at the center said that the infected poultry had low-antibodies and were easily exposed to NDV. “We have conducted avian flu rapid tests on the poultry with negative results,” Tenaya said.

I Ketut Suarjaya, head of the Bali Health Office, said that there had been no other suspect cases of avian flu since the most recent one in last April.

Since its first outbreak in Bali in 2005, bird flu has claimed the lives of six people, including four young children.

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