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Nationwide alert on bird flu
Vaccines rushed to affected areas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
In a multi-pronged drive to contain the spread of the deadly N5H1 virus of bird flu detected in the tribal Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, the Centre has sounded a countrywide alert to keep a close watch on poultry even as the National Disaster Management Authority has quickly swung into action.

Vaccines to stem a fresh outbreak of bird flu and culling of poultry in Uchal Taluka in Maharashtra and the Surat district of Gujarat has started, coupled with the rapid response teams having rushed to the affected areas. More than 45 teams have already been deployed in this operation and 15 others have been kept on standby.

Official sources said after the culling operation, these areas were being cleaned and disinfected.

With the Cabinet Secretary and other senior officials monitoring the situation closely, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil stressed that there was no need for alarm and expressed confidence that they would be successful in containing the situation.

Assuring that there would be no shortage of medicines, Mr Patil explained that the Centre had already gathered the requisite information about the availability of medicines in the Capital, Mumbai and other places and the Union Health Ministry and the Department of Animal Husbandry had been told that adequate medicines were available.

Simultaneously, the Centre has asked the states to intensify surveillance efforts to identify any case of avian flu along with requisitioning of more doses of Tamiflu and personal protective equipment.

Animal Husbandry Commissioner S.K. Bandopadhayay disclosed that high-level meetings in Haryana, West Bengal and the North-East found no cases of bird flu in their respective states.

Meanwhile, the poultry industry claimed that there was no scientific evidence of bird flu in India and charged multinational corporations with entering into a nexus to cash in on a panic situation.

A leading hatchery and the National Egg Coordination Committee has taken exception to laboratory reports of the strains of the avian flu being detected. They claimed it could be Ranikhet disease among poultry chicken which is a common phenomenon this time of the year.
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