Sun, Mar 05, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Noisy `bird calls' keeping flu team busy


Malaysian veterinary officials on alert over a bird flu outbreak have been kept busy with a flood of public complaints about noisy chickens rather than calls about the virus, a report said yesterday.

A high-level veterinary services department official, Abu Hassan Mohammed, Ali, said more than 400 "bird calls" had been received since Monday, most of which were about raucous chickens and neighbors rearing poultry.

"I'm sorry to say that we do not cover those kind of problems," Abu Hassan was quoted as saying in the Star daily.

He said the department was also receiving complaints about people keeping fighting cocks in their neighborhood and calls for veterinary officials to clean up dead birds found in streets.

"Birds die of natural causes. That's normal. It does not necessarily mean that the birds had died of the avian flu. The complainants themselves can bury the dead birds," he said, adding that department staff were already stretched.

Malaysia on Feb. 21 announced its first outbreak among birds in more than a year after the deadly H5N1 virus was detected in 40 free-range chickens found dead in four villages in the capital.

No human cases of bird flu have so far been reported in Malaysia.

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