Indonesian official: Global bird flu losses tops 2 billion USD

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bird fluJAKARTA, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The world's poultry industry suffered approximately 2 billion U.S. dollars in losses due to the bird flu epidemic in the period of September 2005 to September 2006, an Indonesian official was quoted Saturday as saying.

"The global poultry industry has suffered direct losses of 2 billion dollars due to lower prices. This is equal to 14 percent of the total value of world trade," National Avian Influenza Control Commission chairman Bayu Krisnamurthi said, as quoted by major newspaper The Jakarta Post.

Apart from the direct financial losses, Bayu said, indirect losses had also been severe, including lower incomes for poultry breeders, lower poultry consumption and lower nutritional intake as a result of people's unwillingness to consume poultry products.

"The indirect losses are about 1.7 times the value of the direct losses, or about 3.4 billion dollars," he estimated.

He said that in Indonesia alone, the poultry industry had suffered 1.1 trillion rupiah (about 120.2 million dollars) in losses due to bird flu.

Furthermore, he said, the bird flu outbreak had also affected tourism.

"Because the tourism industry is highly dependent on public perceptions, erroneous perceptions about bird flu have resulted in people being nervous about visiting places where they think there is bird flu," he said.

The first cases of bird flu in Indonesia were detected in 2003 and the first cases in humans in 2005. Since July 2005, the bird flu virus has infected 74 people and resulted in the deaths of 57 in the country.

source - Xinhua