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Last Update: 23 Jan 2019
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For more enquiries, please contact us:
Address :
Department of Agriculture Sarawak, 7 & 12-17th Floor, Menara Pelita,
Jln. Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, Sarawak
Tel. No.: 082-441000   Fax No.: 082-447821
Email :

For more enquiries, please contact us:

Address :

Department of Agriculture Sarawak, 7th, 12-14, 16-17th Floor, Menara Pelita, Jln. Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, Petra Jaya, 93050 Kuching, Sarawak

Tel. No.:  082-441000  
Fax No.:  082-447639 (Director Office), 
                 082-446039 (Human Resource)

Email : 


Highly Pathogenic Avian InfluenzaHighly Pathogenic Avian Influenza


What is Avian Influenza?

Influenza Virus which infect chicken are the same genus of virus that cause human influenza.  The virus belongs to member of family Orthomyxoviridae.  There are 3 influenza types, A, B and C; only type A are known to infect birds.

Figure 1:  Illustration of Influenza Virus

Presently, the subtypes H5N1 and H7N7 are known to cause Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  H5N1 virus is the causative agent for HPAI in Hong Kong, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.  H7N7 virus is the cause of HPAI in Holland in 2003.







What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of HPAI?

Chicken will exhibit clinical signs and symptoms in 12 hours to few days after infection.  In acute cases, there may be little signs and symptoms and mortality is very high.  The main signs and symptoms in other cases are:

  • Swollen eyes and face
  • Diarrhoea
  • Haemorrhage and discoloration of the shank and feet
  • Cyanosis and edema of comb and wattles (Fig. 2)
  • Mortality of 70%-100%
  • Big drop in egg production in layer


Figure 2:  Clinical signs of HPAI. Cyanosis and discoloration of comb, wattles and feet

How Do HPAI Virus Spread?

Wild birds, ducks and geese can be carriers of the type A viruses and they are largely responsable for the spread to domestic chicken.  HPAI virus are present in the feces, nasal and eye discharge and saliva.  The virus can survive in feces and water at 0oC for more than 30 days.  Transmision is through respiratory or oral route.  Infection can be through direct or indirect means.  Thus horizontal spread from flock to flock is possible.  In the recent HPAI outbreak in Netherlands, 60% of reported cases occured in farms within an area of 1 km radius.

What Roles Do Migratory Birds And Waterfowls Play In Spreading Of HPAI?

Migratory birds and waterfowls can be "reservoir" for HPAI viruses.  These birds are carriers which do not show any clinical signs.  They migrate from the north to Australia and rest in various places including Malaysia.  These birds, if they are carriers, may shed viruses and contaminate the bird sanctuary or farms where they stop over and introduce the disease.


What Action Should Be Taken If HPAI Is Suspected In Poultry Farm?

Immediate action should be taken if HPAI is supected with clinical signs and mortality more than 5%.  The following action should be taken immediately:

Figure 3: Examine the health of chicken daily
  • Stop movement immediately-seal off the farm, no movement of birds and other animals out of the farm, control the movement of vehicle and workers, all workforce must use protective and safe attire
  • Observe strict farm biosecurity measures
  • Report to HPAI Operation Room in State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory or nearest Veterinary Office
HPAI Diagnosis

Diagnostic confirmation will be done at Veterinary Research Institute, Ipoh.  Samples will be tested using Haemagglutination (HA) test and Haemagglutination Inhibition (HI) test.  PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) will also be used for quick confirmation.

Coorperation Required To Assist The Control Of HPAI

Spread of infection can be controlled with the following immediate action:

  • Farmers to inform Veterinary Office if they suspect HPAI infection
  • Department to investigate and diagnose
  • Farmers, Department and industry concern to work together if destruction or culling have to be carried out
  • Livestock Breeders Associations to ensure that regulations and guidelines given by the Department is adherid to by their members
Can HPAI Infect Human?

Both subtypes H5N1and H7N7 can infect and cause dealth in human especially in children.  Farm workers must wear appropriate protective and safe attire especially mask to prevent infection.


Tel: 082-612949, 082-611607

Fax: 082-613460

Veterinary Division, 
Department Of Agriculture Sarawak

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