Malaysian Experience in Handling the threat of East Asian highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks

This paper discusses the measures that were put in place before, during and after the peak period of bird flu outbreaks in East Asia in early 2004.

Please note: This paper was written when Malaysia was still free of the bird flu virus.

Kamarudin, M.I., Abdul Aziz M, Sharifah S.H., Asiah Naina, Ong B.L., Rozanah Asmah A.S. and Zamri-Saad M.
Department of Veterinary Services, 8th and 9th Floor, Wisma Chase Perdana, Off Jalan Semantan Bukit Damansara 50630 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia Serdang 43400 Selangor Darul Ehsan.

This paper was presented at the 11th International Conference of the Association of Institutions for Tropical Veterinary Medicine and 16th Veterinary Association Malaysia Congress 23-27 August 2004, Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre, Petaling Jaya

This paper discusses the measures that were put in place before, during and after the peak period of bird flu outbreaks in East Asia in early 2004.

Pre East Asian Bird Flu Outbreaks (before Jan 2004)
1) Surveillance Programme – The bird flu infection is one of the 13 diseases under the purview of the National Diseases Prevention, Control and Eradication Programme.

2) Public Awareness Programme –Malaysian authorities conducted seminars and meetings where various issues that might affect the poultry industry in Malaysia were addressed.

3) Importation ban on poultry and poultry products – Importation ban was imposed from countries affected by the disease earlier than 23rd Jan 2003.

Peak Period of East Asian bird flu outbreak (23 Jan – 20 April 2004)
1) Intensified Surveillance Programme – Thailand Authorities admitted HPAI hit the country on 23 Jan 2004 and subsequently the Indonesian Govt on 26 January 2004, the surveillance program was intensified. A hypothesis was made that bird flu virus might have entered the country earlier than the official declaration dates.

2) Preparedness to face the bird flu outbreak in Malaysia.
Mortality rate of chickens, ducks or birds exceeding 3 % in a farm or premise will trigger the Outbreak Emergency Response System (OERS), which include quarantines, collecting and testing samples and destroying birds and animals in the infected farms.

3) Legislation and enforcement
Handling of HPAI outbreaks must be backed-up by sufficient laws especially to order temporary quarantine and destroying of birds and animals.

4) Depopulation policy
In the infected zone (1 km radius), all birds and other animals and their products will be destroyed. In the buffer zone (2 km radius), only birds and its products will be destroyed and no movement will be allowed. The surveillance zone (7 km radius) will be intensively surveyed. If no infection is detected for 21 days after the last depopulation exercise, the farms in the surveillance zone will be cleared and the farm will be back to its normal operation.

5) Compensation Scheme
The mechanisam for compensation scheme has been formulated but the amount will be decided when outbreak occurs

6) Communications system
At the peak of the HPAI outbreaks in 2004, the only credible source of information was from the Department of Veterinary Services HPAI operation room, which was in operation for 14 hours daily. A HPAI website was created and updated daily. Posters and leaflets on the disease and what farmers should do if she/he noticed the signs were produced and distributed.

7) Preventive measure – Importantion ban that was enforced during the pre-outbreak period was found to be effective during the outbreak period.

8) Border control - To prevent illegal entry of poultry and poultry products.

Post- peak Period of East Asian HPAI Outbreak (Beyond 20 April 2004)
1) 2nd Phase Surveillance Programme
By this time the situation of HPAI in East Asia had improved. Although the risk was lower compared to the peak period, surveillance programme was formulated to address the possibility of infection carried by the north-bound migratory birds. Intensified clinical surveillance was focused on farms within the 10 km surrounding the identified bird sanctuaries. Similarly intensified virology surveillance was focused in duck population within the same areas. Other premises on farms were monitored as of the pre-outbreak period.

2) SMS notification system
A new notification system utilising SMS communication had been developed. Using this system, the mobile telephone number of farmers were registered and kept in database. Each morning an SMS is sent to farmers asking for farms with mortality rate of more than 3%. If a YES answer is received, the Outbreak Emergency Response System goes into action.

Published: 05 Oct 2005

Contact details:

Veterinary Research Institute 59 Jln. Sultan Azlan Shah 31400 Ipoh, Perak

News topics: 
Content type: