Bali Moves to Prevent Swine Flu

DENPASAR ~ Authorities in Bali were on high alert this week over the quickly spreading swine flu, which has claimed lives in Mexico and the United States, and took measures to prevent the virus entering the island.

Chief of public health veterinarians Astiwati said the Farming, Fisheries and Marine Department was beginning to take preventative measures and had been spraying disinfectant around Jl. Tukad Kresek, Denpasar’s pig farming centre.

She said Denpasar has about 30,000 pigs, most privately owned and kept in pigpens or cages, which could help to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Cages and pens are generally kept clean, so it’s difficult for the virus to replicate,” Astiwati said.

However, farmers reported later in the week that because Bali’s government does not yet have a supply of any vaccine for swine flu, the government was inappropriately providing them with cholera vaccines.

The head of Bali Agriculture Department, I.B. Ketut Alit, confirmed the reports on Wednesday, but justified the response by saying pigs should be kept as healthy as possible.

“The benefit of the cholera vaccinations is keeping the pigs as fit as possible so it is not easy for them to be attacked by other viruses,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ngurah Rai International Airport authorities called a meeting between airport administrator PT. Angkasa Pura I, airlines, customs, immigration, the quarantine board and search and rescue officials to discuss preventative measures against swine flu.

Ngurah Rai Airport spokesman Alex Pudjianto said during the meeting that any airplane with suspected swine flu carriers on board would be quarantined and disinfected before being allowed to take off again.

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