Indonesia has identified the strain of bird flu virus that has killed more than 300,000 ducks in several provinces in Java island since November as a more virulent type which is new to the country, according to Syukur Iwantoro, the agriculture ministry's veterinary chief.

The H5N1 virus is a different clade to that usually found in Indonesia, and Iwantoro has called for research into whether the virus is a genetic shift in avian flu previously found in Indonesia, or whether the new strain came from overseas, possibly from Vietnam or Thailand. Local governments have been told to check incoming motorbikes and trucks commonly used to transport poultry to try to reduce the spread of the virus.


The Indonesian health ministry has told local offices to be vigilant of more large-scale poultry deaths, or deaths of people in the infected areas. Indonesia has been the country to suffer the largest number of human deaths from bird flu since 2003, with 159 out of a worldwide 359, according to the World Health Organization.