India Bird-Flu Outbreak – Is it Over or Is It Not?

It was with a big sigh of relief that all of us heard that the bird flu epidemic had officially been declared over in India.

That was back on the 14th of August.

The official notification was celebrated with almost ritual chicken parties and the local media had a great time publicizing the people enjoying their chicken meals.

Free chicken meals were provided by some local poultry farmers in celebration of the end of the Bird-Flu outbreak in the Imphal area.

There were some minor stipulations regarding the five-kilometre secure zone with epicentre at Thangmeiband, the sight of the outbreak but it was announced that poultry meat brought in from outside the Thangmeiband security zone, would be allowed to be sold.

There was also another clause forbidding sale of eggs unless they are from outside of the culling zones.

Just how it was to be determined eggs from outside Imphal and those from Imphal, was however not explained.

All in all though, every one rejoiced in the fact that the virus had gone away.

So it was with mounting concern, that we heard about the arrests of some poultry meat vendors from the poultry meat centres in and around imphal.

This area was NOT within the Thangmeiband security zone and if the Bird-Flu virus is really over, then it was perfectly legal to sell the poultry meat and eggs in that area.

So, is the Bird-Flu outbreak NOT over as yet?

Even though we were impressed by the speed with which the Federal Government and the State Government had acted to try and root out the virus, there have been many questions regarding the origins of the outbreak that have not been answered.

A news item from the IMPHAL FREE PRESS has the following vital questions that must be addressed by the Indian Authorities immediately:

1. We still do not know where and how the virus entered the state.

2. The farm where the virus was first detected, (which is now clear of the virus), got its hatchings from the government farm at Mantripukhri. But then most other farms in the state must also have got their hatchlings from the same source.

3. How did only a single farmer come to acquire the diseased birds from an apparently shared source of the hatchlings?

4. How come even other birds belonging to the same farmer which shared the same coop as the diseased ones did not have the virus?

5. There were also suggestions that the virus could have entered the state from neighbouring Myanmar which saw an outbreak of the flu a few months earlier. How did the virus manage not to leave a trail along the way and land as if delivered by helicopter at Thangmeiband?

6. If it was migratory birds that brought the virus in, why would they leave the virus only at a chicken farm, that too in the heart of Imphal city which is not exactly a roosting place for wild birds?

It is of course good to remain vigilant against the H5N1 virus and we commend the Indian Government’s efforts in this respect as you can see from the following.

Ms. Upama Chaudury, the Joint Secretary of the Federal Agriculture Ministry of India, has reportedly asked the State Govt to heighten vigil against bird flu in and around Loktak lake as many migratory birds are expected to arrive in the lake soon.

Informing that the Forest and Wild Life Department has no active surveillance plan of its own, the Joint Secretary asked the State Government to formulate a surveillance plan.

Citing the complexities encountered during the containment drive against bird flu in Imphal town recently, she further suggested regulation on rearing poultry birds in urban area.

That is fine, however, full transparency in the efforts in the fight against the killer virus is also very important, as this fight involves not only the Government, but also the poultry farmer, the vendor of poultry meat as well as other citizens.

Sources:

www.birdflubreakingnews.com

http://www.e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=Snipp1..010907.sep07

http://www.kanglaonline.com/index.php?template=headline&newsid=1648&typeid=0

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India wants its women to be Aware of Bird-Flu.

India had one of the first women Prime Ministers in the world.

In India’s ancient history of more than 10,000 years, women have been known to be in powerful and vitally important positions in society.

Yet it is a fact that most of the women in India today, are not educated and are not able to fully develop their potential.

The Government of India and specifically the State Government of Manipur, has now decided that it is important to make the women of rural India  aware of the dangers that are present in the matter of the deadly Bird-Flu virus.   

Underlying the importance of women in Manipuri society in taking up various social issues, All Manipur Nupi Marup organised a State Level Awareness programme on Bird flu for womenfolk at State Museum Hall, Imphal today.

Health and Family Welfare Minister P Parijat attended the inaugural function of the awareness programme as chief guest and president of Nupi Marup I Ibeni as functional president.

Additional Director of Health Th Biren Singh was the resource person of the awareness programme attended by around 150 women coming from different parts of the State.

 Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi
 

Sources:

www.birdflubreakingnews.com

http://www.e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=Snipp3..270807.aug07

www.hindu.com

Office of Registrar General of India.

India Bird-Flu, 4 Children test Negative, but a further 51 are Quarantined.

A huge sigh of relief went through a Fifth of the entire human race, as the four children suspected of a Bird-Flu infection were declared free of the virus in India.

Throat swab and tissue samples of the four boys (all under 14) had been sent for testing, but no sign of bird flu was found.

“They are negative,” said Vineet Chawdhry, a joint secretary in India’s health ministry.

 

Thousands of people in Manipur state in India’s northeast were also checked by health officials after the outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in chickens on a small poultry farm.

However, the authorities have quarantined a further 51 people also from Manipur.

“Since all these people had worked in culling or sanitising operations or monitoring people’s health around the affected poultry farm they have to be quarantined and monitored,” said Vineet Chawdhry.

Most had complained of being “unwell”, he added, but did not say whether any had flu-like symptoms. All 51 were on Tamiflu, the popular drug to prevent and treat bird flu, as a precaution, the health ministry said.

Hundreds of “cullers” were involved in killing nearly 300,000 fowl over the past week in Manipur, a state bordering Myanmar that saw two outbreaks of bird flu in chickens in July alone.

The culling, which took place within a 5-km (3-mile) radius around the affected poultry farm near Imphal, capital of Manipur, ended on Thursday.

Health officials have completed checks of around 235,000 people in the area, but said they would closely monitor the situation.

Sources:

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/DEL107380.htm

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India

/4_Indian_children_test_negative_for_bird_flu/articleshow/2253961.cms
 

India Awaits the Bird-Flu Sample Results for 4 Children.

The Government of India says that the recent outbreak of the Bird-flu virus is now under control.

“The outbreak appears to have been localised,” said Upma Chawdhry, joint secretary in the federal Animal Husbandry Department, adding that teams were sanitising poultry farms, including destroying egg trays and disinfecting coops.

Manipur borders Myanmar, Burma and Bangladesh. 

All of these countries have reported outbreaks of bird flu.

Myanmar is seen as a potential blackhole in the global fight against avian influenza, given its rudimentary health infrastructure and its secretive regime.

However, state authorities were monitoring the health of four children, with fever and Flu like symptoms.

 The children had apparently handled dead or sick fowl while playing in the neighbourhood.

 The State Government has sent their blood and throat swab samples for testing to a speicialist Federal laboratary.

India had two major outbreaks last year in its western region — both of which were successfully contained.

Officials said they were also investigating the deaths of about 120 chickens in Mizoram state, which neighbours Manipur in addition to Burma and Bangladesh.

Chawdhry said the deaths (in Mizoraam) seemed to be due to the fowl pox viral disease but added that authorities were not any taking chances as the dead chickens were just 10 km from the Myanmar border. 

This situation is under careful watch,” she said.

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-28789520070802

“Bird-Flu Panic in India” is not just another Headline Hype.

The Bird-Flu outbreak in the North East state of Manipur is creating havoc with the lives of the residents of the state as the Government launches emergency measures to fight the H5N1 Virus.

Following are a few news reports of the effects that the Bird-Flu outbreak is having in many parts of the country.

manipur_loc.gif (12199 bytes)

In Manipur, the Government has imposed a ban on the sale of Poultry. The police have shutdown all poultry shops.

Most poultry shops in Imphal, the capital of Manipur, including the traditional Murgi Bazar (Chicken Market) of Khwairamband remained closed for the second consecutive day on Friday.

The Manipur poultry farmers are even harder hit with their entire stock of Poultry being taken away and destroyed.

The “panic” seems to have spread to several other states as well, in this vast country.

The State Governments of Orissa, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh Rajasthan and many other states have issued emergency orders to try and prepare for the worse scenario.

There is a great concern in Andhra Pradesh(AP) in terms of an economic loss for the state.

The poultry association is panic struck for they fear a loss of Rs 200 crores (1 Carore is 10000000) a month if egg exports are stopped.

One crore table eggs from the state are exported every month to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Due to the bird flu scare last year these countries had banned the eggs from India . The total loss that year was put around Rs 1000 crores.

It is understandable that the poultry trade in that state is scared of a repeat of the same this year

In Punjab (another huge supplier of poultry) the poultry trade was also “consumed by fear” after the news of the pathogenic avian influenza in poultry of Manipur spread.

In Nagaland, right next to the afflicted Manipur, the things are very tense indeed.

The Nagaland Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry held a high-level meeting yesterday and decided to intensify the existing ban on import of poultry and pigs and their products from neighbouring Manipur and Myanmar.

They also decided to carry out fogging (de-infection) on all vehicles entering the State from Manipur at Khuzama and Phesama check gates and asked villagers in nearby areas to co-operate with the government officials.

An alert has also been sounded in Rajasthan.

‘We have sounded an alert and have asked the animal husbandry department officials to remain vigilant,’ Prabhulal Saini, Rajasthan’s Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister told IANS here on Friday.

He said that surveillance teams comprising of veterinary doctors and assistants have been constituted and they have been asked to visit poultry farms and places where migratory birds come. The teams will submit their reports to the animal husbandry department on a regular basis.

The state has a big poultry industry with over 6.3 million birds, out of which the Ajmer district has over 2.5 million birds. Officials of the animal husbandry department said that to save these birds from the disease, the department has decided to inspect all the poultry farms in the state.

There are similar stories from all over the country arriving every hour.

Sources:

http://www.medindia.com/news/Bird-Flu-Outbreak-Affects-Poultry-Business-in-Manipur-24181-1.htm

http://www.indiaenews.com/health/20070727/62767.htm

http://www.indiaenews.com/health/20070727/62820.htm