Indonesian quarantine service increases surveillance of swine flu

Indonesian quarantine service increases surveillance of swine flu

Director of Livestock and Animal Health at the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture I Ketut Diarmita. ANTARA/Riza Harahap.

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian quarantine and inspection service ramped up its surveillance over the entry and outflows of meat and livestock products potentially spreading the swine influenza virus that Chinese scientists say could likely jump to humans.

"Systematic surveillance over the swine flu virus is the key precautionary measure against a possible influenza pandemic in future. We are preparing for its contingency plan," Director of Livestock and Animal Health at the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture I Ketut Diarmita stated.

In conversation with local journalists in Jakarta on Thursday, Diarmita spoke of his directorate general boosting the capacity of Indonesia's animal health laboratories to identify potential swine flu threats from the early stage.

The discovery of this swine flu, with pandemic potential, had left people perplexed since they believed it was similar to that of the African Swine Fever (ASF), when in fact, they are two different diseases, he noted.

"The cases of hogs in Indonesia are related to the ASF and not to the swine flu," he clarified.

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ANTARA noted that the ASF virus cases that could be traced in Indonesia in 2019 and February 2020 had killed thousands of hogs in North Sumatra and several other provinces in Indonesia, including Bali.

Apart from Indonesia, the ASF virus had also swept across countries in Asia, including China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Many are alarmed by the outbreak since no vaccine has yet been found to cure the ASF virus that has a lethal effect on pigs but will not contaminate humans.

In connection with the potential threats of swine flu, the Indonesian Health Ministry has also intensified its precautionary measures after the Chinese scientists recently cautioned that the pig influenza virus bearing genotype 4 (G4) could likely be transmitted from swine to humans.

"Our surveillance remains in place to detect any possibility," Director of Disease Prevention and Control at the Indonesian Ministry of Health Siti Nadia Tarmizi stated.

However, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture that has an authoritative area of detecting workers at the hog farming industry had yet to find any potential spread of G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and humans in Indonesia, she revealed.

"We have yet to receive any report on this matter," she noted, adding that the swine flu-related viruses were actually classified as a "self-limiting disease".

The World Health Organization (WHO) had grouped it into an ordinary influenza whose vaccine has been available, she pointed out.

Director General of Livestock and Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture I Ketut Diarmita has earlier confirmed that the ASF that had killed several hogs in Indonesia was not a swine flu.

Regarding the G4 EA H1N1 viruses, China's Global Times reported earlier that scientists from the China Agricultural University, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutes recently published their study in the US scientific journal, PNAS.

They revealed in their published report that the "pig influenza virus bearing genotype 4 (G4), which is contagious among pigs and has the possibility of jumping to humans, as the G4 virus is able to bind with human cells", according to Global Times.

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