Rainy Season Could Exacerbate Bird Flu

The start of the rainy season could see an increase in incidents of bird flu amongst humans, as the damp conditions encourage respiratory infections, health experts have said.

Ngurah Mahardika, a flu specialist at Udayana University, said bird-to-human transmission of the disease was more likely during wet weather.

“In high humidity, the virus is able to survive a little bit longer. Besides, in the transition period between the dry and the rainy seasons, poultry easily get sick and are therefore more vulnerable to the virus,” he said.

However, Mahardika said that it was still only those who lived in close proximity to poultry who were at serious risk.

“It would require proximity of less than 10 meters between a sick bird and a human for the virus to spread. A person can also easily be infected when in contact with the body fluids of sick poultry. This can also happen in the dry season, not only in the rainy season,” he said.

“The public should not worry too much. As long as they don’t come into contact with sick poultry or with meat from sick poultry, they will not be infected,” he said, adding that people should always be careful when buying poultry, either for home consumption or as offerings for religious ceremonies.

“Many cases have occurred in areas where a major religious ceremony was held. If not necessary, people shouldn’t buy live poultry or meat, unless they buy it from a trusted slaughterhouse or breeder,” he said.

Mahardika said no human-to-human transmission of the disease had yet been recorded in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, head of the Bali Animal Husbandry Department, Putu Sumantra, said another increased risk factor was the continuing smuggling of live poultry into Bali from other parts of Indonesia.

“An outbreak could occur due to the increasing number of poultry being transported to the island,” he said.

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