The Mon Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development has begun a campaign to inspect poultry farms and educate their operators following the detection of Avian Flu in Sagaing Region. The Ministry’s Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department seeks to prevent an outbreak in the state, which could devastate an important industry.
Inspectors in Mon State are visiting farms in all of the state’s 10 townships to inspect operations and train farmers in safe poultry handling practices, such as minimizing human cross-contamination of bird populations. The push comes after the H5 and H9 strains of the Avian Flu, also known as Bird Flu and Avian Influenza, were discovered in birds at a designated poultry zone near the Sagaing city of Monywa.
“We are educating farmers about the importance of bio-security, especially in preventing the spread of Bird Flu. We tell them how to use medicinal sprays and vaccinate birds, and how to minimize contact between poultry and other species, including humans,” said Dr. Aung Than Win, head of the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department.
He added that local authorities have been instructed to be vigilant to any unusual poultry deaths in their jurisdictions, and to report any such deaths to the department.
Poultry farmers and industry groups fear what the flu could do to their stocks, but also worry that preventative measures could be onerous. Ko Nyo Min, the leader of a state livestock industry group, argued that the threat comes from outside of Mon State: “the problem is not infected chickens in the state. The real danger is from birds imported illegally from Thailand.” He said that poultry and eggs are smuggled from Thailand two or three times a month, avoiding inspection at the border.
Still, the large number of birds in Mon State presents a challenge to prevention efforts. The Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department reports more than 200,000 laying hens and 900,000 meat chickens in Mon State, as well as 200,000 laying ducks and 150,000 meat ducks.
Avian Flu has only been detected in Mon State once, when infected birds were found simultaneously at Mawlamyine and Thanbyuzayat farms in 2007.