Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. Authorities in Bali closed down the Satria Poultry Market in Denpasar on Friday after several chickens there tested positive for bird flu, days after the resort island recorded the country’s seventh human death this year from the infectious disease.
Anak Agung Gede Bayu Bramasta, the head of the Denpasar livestock agency, said the market would remain closed for at least three weeks.
“It will only be allowed to reopen once it has been completely cleaned up,” he said.
Bramasta said health inspectors had found at least four chickens being sold there that tested positive for the H5N1 strain of flu virus, prompting the 242 other chickens there to be culled.
Livestock officials also used disinfectant to hose down poultry stalls at Kumbasari Market to prevent the spread of the virus.
Wayan Sukanadi, the head of the livestock agency’s bird flu response team, said most of the poultry being sold in markets across Denpasar had been brought into the island from East Java.
He said the suppliers were flouting a 2005 gubernatorial decree prohibiting the transport of all poultry into Bali, which was specifically issued to tackle with the global bird flu outbreak of the time.
Some traders at Satria market told the Jakarta Globe they got their birds from Jember and Probolinggo districts in East Java, but claimed ignorance of the gubernatorial decree.
Ketut Gita, a trader, said it was actually quite easy to bring chickens in from Java.
“There’s usually two shipments a day,” he said.
“Maybe that’s because the port officials, particularly at Gilimanuk, are being bribed. But at Padangbai it’s very difficult to bring in chickens.”
Earlier this month, officials at the Gilimanuk quarantine office culled hundreds of chickens being smuggled in the cargo bay of a bus from East Java. Several of the chickens tested positive for bird flu. The suppliers have still not been identified.
Putu Sumantra, the head of the provincial livestock agency, said officials were tightening controls at Gilimanuk and other key ports.
“But these are smugglers we’re dealing with, they’re always a step ahead,” he said.
“We can clamp down on Gilimanuk, but they’ll just come in through small fishing ports.”
The latest bird flu scare follows confirmation from health officials that an 8-year-old boy died from the disease on Tuesday.
His death is the seventh in the country this year from H5N1, and the second in Bali. One fatality has been confirmed on neighboring Lombok, with one each in Bengkulu and Tangerang and two in Jakarta.
There were only nine confirmed bird flu deaths through all of last year.