At least 62 percent of chickens indigenous to Indonesia are resistant to bird flu, thanks to a gene in their body called Mx, the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) revealed Monday.
“Genetically, the indigenous chickens [to Indonesia] have a gene that is immune to avian influenza,” said head of the institute Umar
Anggara Jenie, in an exposé of a biological study she gave at the Cibinong Sciences Center in Bogor, West Java.
Sri Sulandari, a gene researcher at the institute’s biological research center who studied the genes of indigenous chickens, said her institute carried out the first ever gene study focusing on how humans coped when contracting the virus and on the vaccination process.
“Few have looked into the genetic side to see how chickens themselves have a natural resistance to bird flu. The indigenous chickens’ ability to resist avian influenza varies according to the strength of the antivirus genes in their body,” Sri said.
Recent evidence indicated the Mx gene was associated with chicken resistance or susceptibility to highly pathogenic bird flu.
Indonesia’s varied population of indigenous chickens is a mine of information on the Mx gene and how resistant each breed of chicken is to bird flu, Sri added.
“Therefore, if there is a bird flu epidemic in a certain region, it is unwise to simply cull indigenous breeds, as we may lose crucial information on the Mx gene,” she said.
Based on research findings, the institute rated the dark-colored Cemani chicken the most resistant to the virus and the green forest chicken the most susceptible.
The population of chickens in Banten, West Java, Lampung and North Sumatra was also found to be highly resistant to the virus.
The institute’s research findings were based on samples taken from 1,872 indigenous chickens of various breeds.
Avian influenza was first detected in Indonesia in August 2003 and has now been found in birds from 31 of the archipelago’s provinces.
According to the Indonesia National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, there have been 145 human cases of bird flu in Indonesia spread over 12 provinces, with 119 fatalities.
To curb the spread of bird flu, the Jakarta administration issued a bylaw to ban backyard farming and also plans to remove all fowl slaughterhouses from inner city areas, concentrating slaughtering in the peripheral areas of Jakarta, such as Pulogadung, Rawa Kepiting and Cakung in East Jakarta and Kalideres in West Jakarta.
The administration is also aiming to relocate all slaughterhouses in the city to the four fowl slaughter centers by April 2010. In 2007, the city administration culled 78,741 fowl.