Bird flu found in chickens throughout the Indonesian capital

Bird flu has been found in chickens throughout the Indonesian capital, the agricultural minister said Friday as authorities slaughtered some 400 fowl close to the home of a young girl who died of the disease. "It is very serious," said Anton Apriyantono. "Based on our research, the virus has spread all over the city."

Bird flu has killed or forced the culling of hundreds of millions of birds in Asia since 2003 and has jumped to humans, resulting in the deaths of at least 67 people.

In Indonesia, the H5N1 strain of the virus has been found in 23 of 30 provinces, and killed seven people. Unlike other countries, Indonesia does not routinely cull birds, citing lack of funds.

But on Friday, authorities slaughtered about 400 chickens and other birds in a residential area of Jakarta, close to the house of one of Indonesia's latest human victims. Workers in protective masks slashed the throats of the birds, and threw the carcasses on fire, along with coops and cages.

Compensation was paid to people whose birds were slaughtered, officials said. Health experts are following the spread of the virus closely because they fear it may mutate into a form that's easily passed between people and trigger a pandemic, possibly killing millions globally, reports the AP. I.L.

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