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Bird flu detected in Jalgaon

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No case of human infection, says Health Ministry

Our Bureau

Health card


Around 700

birds reported dead.

Most deaths

reported from backyard poultry farms.

75,000 more

birds to be culled.

Mumbai, March 14

An outbreak of avian influenza was reported on Tuesday from Jalgaon in Maharashtra.

According to a senior State official around 700 birds have died with some samples testing positive for bird flu. "Tests confirmed that it is the H5N1 strain of bird flu,'' Dr Vijay Satbir Singh, Secretary, Public Health Department, Maharashtra Government, said.

It could not be confirmed if all the deaths were due to bird flu.

Dr Singh said there were a large number of birds in the region, an area of 1,200 sq kms. Major deaths have been reported from Marul village in Yaval taluka of Jalgaon, in the northern part of the State. There have been some deaths at Dharangaon and Chopda taluka of the district as well.

"Most of the deaths have been reported from backyard poultry farms,'' Dr Singh said. He along with the State Chief Secretary would be travelling to Jalgaon on Wednesday to make an assessment of the situation.

The outbreak of avian influenza in the country was reported earlier from the Navapur area of Nandurbar district in the State. Following this, the State Government had culled a total of 64,858 backyard poultry and 2,53,063 farm poultry birds; destroyed 14.47 lakh eggs and 1,09,040 kgs of feed.

Outbreak

After efforts to contain the outbreak, the Central Government had just reinstated chicken on the menu of the Defence services, railways and airlines. It had also issued advertisements about the safety of eating well-cooked chicken.

The poultry industry, severely impacted by this crisis, had begun recovering and as late as Tuesday morning industry officials were expressing optimism of things getting back on track. Given the Jalgaon episode, that recovery process may get delayed.

Our Delhi Bureau adds

The Health Ministry today said that some cases of bird flu have been detected in four villages of Jalgaon district in Maharashtra, but added that there has been no case of human infection.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, said that information had been received that some birds had died in the four villages, including Hate and Salve, in Jalgaon district.

Tests have confirmed that dead birds had been affected by avian flu, the Minister said while replying to a debate on Demands for Grants for the Agriculture Ministry.

Ms Upma Chawdhry, Joint Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, said: "We have decided to cull 75,000 birds following confirmation of bird flu cases."

Response teams

She added that 50 rapid response teams would be deployed to monitor and provide assistance in the areas around Jalgaon; the quarantine area is spread over 1,250 sq km.

Meanwhile, Mr Vineet Chawdhry, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said that so far there have been no reports of human infection.

All the 11 persons who had been quarantined were discharged by March 3, while about 70,000 persons living around the villages have been screened and cleared.

Tamiflu stockpiled

The Government already has stockpiled seven lakh units of Tamiflu, the drug used to treat bird flu infection.

Mr Chawdhry said that both Hetero Drugs and Cipla have assured that they are in a position to supply the drugs within 48 hours.

Mr Pawar had earlier said that the agriculture industry had lost Rs 200 crore a day on account of the bird flu scare. The Government had decided to provide relief to farmers through rescheduling of term loans and replenishment of working capital at the earliest.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 15, 2006)
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