JAKARTA: The sudden death of thousands of chickens has been reported in several cities on Sumatra Island over the past several months, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.
Local health authorities have confirmed that most of the chickens had died of bird flu or avian influenza (H5N1).
The poultry deaths due to bird flu have occurred among other things in the Sumatran provinces of West Sumatra, Bengkulu, Jambi and Bangka Belitung.
In Padang, West Sumatra, the M Jamil General Hospital had treated a total of 27 patients suspected of being infected with the bird flu virus since January 2011.
Padang is the worst-affected city in West Sumatra, as 24 of the total 27 patients are residents of the city, according to Gustavianof, a spokesman of the M Jamil Public Hospital.
"While patients from outside Padang, include one from Bukittinggi, one from Pesisir Selatan District, and another from Dharmasraya," he said in Padang, Thursday.
Up to Thursday, two patients were still undergoing intensive treatment at the hospital.
The hospital has taken blood samples from the two patients and sent them to the laboratory of the Jakarta-based health ministry's Health Development and Research Agency (Balitbangkes), to confirm whether they are negative or positive of bird flu virus infection.
In 2009, the M Jamil Public hospital had treated nine bird flu suspect cases, and seven cases in 2010, including one patient that had died while being treated in the hospital.
A total of 1,866 chickens were dead in Payakumbuh city, West Sumatra Province recently.
West Sumatra has prepared two hospitals, including M Jamil Public Hospital, to give free-of-charge medical treatment to patients suspected of having been infected by the H5N1 virus.
As H5N1 virus cases have been reported in many regions in Bengkulu Province, also on Sumatra Island, the province has declared that the province is on alert of bird flu.
"Although the number of bird flu cases does not increase, Bengkulu is still cautious of bird flu, and we ask the local residents to monitor their poultry," Emran Kuswadi, Coordinator of Local Disease Control Center (LDCC), said in Bengkulu, last Tuesday.
Up to now, a total of 1,881 chickens had been killed by the bird flu virus in Bengkulu, according to Emran.
Seven districts - Bengkulu, Seluma, Lebong, Bengkulu Tengah, Kepahiang, Kaur and Rejang Lebong - have been particularly declared bird flu alert.
The worst bird flu-affected district is Seluma where 1,175 chickens died of the H5N1 virus at two sub districts, he said.
In Jambi, bird flu has reportedly killed several hundred chickens in Kerinci District, Jambi Kota, and Jambi Luar Kota neighbourhoods. - theStarOnline