Malaysia insists farms free of bird flu after Japan ban


KUALA LUMPUR, AP

Malaysia on Saturday insisted its farms were free of bird flu after Japan suspended poultry imports from the Southeast Asian country, veterinary officials said. The move by Japan came after Singapore suspended imports from a single duck farm in northern Perak state earlier this week after preliminary, routine tests on a July 28 consignment found a suspected form of bird flu. The Singapore government Friday said additional tests found the shipment was free of the deadly variant of the virus but said the ban on imports from the single Malaysian farm would remain as “an added precaution.”

Malaysian Veterinary Services Director-General Hawari Hussein said tests on ducks at the farm in Perak state had so far not shown any variant of the bird flu virus.

“The Japanese authorities have informed me that they are suspending poultry imports from Malaysia but I think it is more of a reaction to what Singapore did,” Hawari told The Associated Press. “We have not detected anything so far….there is no cause for alarm.”

A senior veterinary official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said additional tests had been carried out at the farm in Perak state “to be doubly sure” and the results were expected to be known by early next week. “But so far all the tests have turned up negative for avian flu virus,” he told AP.

Earlier this year, about 100 million birds died or were culled across Asia in an outbreak of the deadly bird flu strain. The virus also spread to people, killing 16 in Vietnam and eight in Thailand.

Land-scarce Singapore, an island state with 4 million residents at the southern end of the Malaysian peninsula, imports most of its fresh meat and vegetables from neighboring states. Singapore imports ducks from 43 duck farms in Malaysia, and at present only a single farm has been affected.

Veterinary officials said Japan bought more than 3,000 tons of poultry from Malaysia in 2003.