Saturday, September 15, 2007

Malaysia : We're Bird Flu Free

Three months ago, Malaysia was hit by an outbreak of H5N1 that resulted in the slaughter of thousands of ducks and chickens. Today, Malaysia's agriculture minister has announced that they've eliminated the virus from poultry farms :

Agriculture Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said surveillance and laboratory tests since June have fulfilled conditions set by the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, to declare the country free of the virulent H5N1 bird flu virus.

"The prompt action by the Veterinary Services Department to stamp out the bird flu outbreak according to the protocol had been effective," the national news agency Bernama quoted Muhyiddin as saying. "We had conveyed the matter to the OIE, which gave the green light for Malaysia to be declared free from the disease."

Muhyiddin's aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, confirmed the comments.

Malaysia on June 5 confirmed its first bird flu outbreak in more than a year after tests on some 60 birds that died in Sungai Buloh, near the country's commercial capital, Kuala Lumpur, showed they had the H5N1 virus.

Several villagers with flu-like symptoms were hospitalized, but they tested negative for bird flu.

Before the last incident, Malaysia had reported an outbreak of the H5N1 strain in March 2006 in chickens in a northern village. The government had previously declared the country free of bird flu in June 2006.

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