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Kelantan declares 'disaster' over bird flu spread; no human infections so far

The Malaysian Health Ministry’s director general, Noor Hisham, said no human infection has been detected so far.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's northeastern state of Kelantan on Wednesday (Mar 15) declared a disaster to fight the outbreak of H5N1 avian flu after the virus spread to two more districts - Pasir Putih and Bachok.

The highly pathogenic bird flu virus was first detected on Mar 6 after a few free-range chickens died outside the state capital Kota Bharu.

Eighteen villages in Kota Bharu have been affected and almost 25,000 birds - mainly chickens, ducks and geese - have been culled since the infection was reported.

The Kelantan Agriculture and Veterinary Services Department declared the outbreak a state disaster and ordered all agencies and departments to control the outbreak. 

The Malaysian Health Ministry’s director general, Noor Hisham, said no human infection has been detected so far but that the ministry is nevertheless on the alert. He added that the virus has not spread to other states, and that the outbreak seems to be contained in Kelantan, which borders Thailand.

The public has been told to take precautions, such as reporting to the authorities if they come into contact with dead birds, and to take care of their personal hygiene.

The state’s veterinary department believes that the virus could have been spread though infected fighting cocks, like in the last outbreak which occurred in 2004. State authorities have asked the community to avoid cockfighting activities for now.