M A I N   N E W S

Three babies quarantined for bird flu
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 20
The Maharashtra Government today quarantined three babies for suspected bird flu in Nandurbar district, health officials said here today. The cases were detected after the authorities undertook a door-to-door survey for suspected bird flu cases in the Navapur tehsil of Nandurbar.

In addition to the three babies aged below two years, a mother and child had been quarantined since Saturday evening. According to state Health Minister Vimal Mundada, 30 persons from the area are undergoing tests for suspected bird flu.

However, none of them have been quarantined so far. All persons are said to be employed in poultry farms in the affected areas.

The government has said the culling of chickens in the affected areas is continuing. However, officials admitted that only a fraction of the 8 lakh or so chickens in the area have so far been culled. Apart from a shortage of staff, the authorities are also blaming the local poultry owners for non-cooperation.

Meanwhile, naturalists and environmentalists have warned that bird flu could be spreading to other areas from wild birds. Crows, sparrows and other migratory birds were found mingling with chickens in the infected areas, visitors to the affected areas said.

In the absence of sophisticated equipment, the culling is turning out to be a laborious process. Health officials are hoping that an early onset of summer could cause the flu to die out. Mr Mundada said the bird flu virus could not survive if the temperature sored above 39°C. At present, the temperature in Nandurbar is touching 38°C.

The government has opened a 26-bedded special ward in the district hospital to treat suspected cases of bird flu, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said, as per a PTI report.

He said 49 poultry farms in and around Navapur had the capacity of holding 9.66 lakh birds. There were 1.30 lakh birds in the poultry farms which would be culled. About 20,000 birds had been culled since yesterday. Additional 15 machines had been brought in to dig pits to bury the birds, he added.



Maharashtra to cull 70,000 birds
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 20
The government today said that while Gujarat was midway in the enormous task of completing culling of 26,000 poultry birds, Maharashtra was likely to meet its deadline of culling 70,000 poultry birds in the next two days. At the same time, the Health Ministry said the government was monitoring the situation closely and there was no human case of Avian Influenza.

They claimed that the Rapid Response Team of their Ministry was in the field alongwith the state teams and were carrying out house-to-house surveillance to identify suspected cases among contacts of infected poultry.

Ninety five clinical samples from contacts and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection cases had been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi and were being tested as per protocol.

Experts from the Department of Animal Husbandry told mediapersons here on Monday that 26,000 birds had been culled in Gujarat. “That is half of the work done. Gujarat is left with very small number of backyard poultry birds. There are 1800 odd birds which will be culled with the cooperation of the poultry farm owners,” Joint Secretary, Animal Husbandry Upma Chawdhary said.

Mr P.M.A Hakeen, Secretary, Animal Husbandry, told TNS that after focussing on the internationally recommended method of culling, they would vaccinate the poultry birds.

Ms Chawdhry termed the bird flu outbreak as very localised. “We will move onto vaccination after culling.

Meanwhile, to prevent panic pill-popping, the government plans to issue a notification to prevent retailing of Tamiflu. Health Secretary P.K. Hota told mediapersons, “Therecould be a tendency to indiscriminately take Tamiflu. Since Tamiflu has side effects and is not suitable for children, we will ensure that it is not available over the counter. The notification will ensure that it is available only through public health channels.’’ He said that mercifully, no human transmission has been detected as yet. 


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