India has declared itself free from the notifiable Avian Influenza (H5N1). The notification was issued to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) on October 22.

A country can declare itself free from birdflu, if there is no outbreak for three months. With the declaration, the country can hope to revive its poultry trade.

India notified the outbreak of Avian Influenza (H5N1) in Assam (18 epicentres), West Bengal (11) and Sikkim (1) between November 2008 and May 2009.

The last outbreak in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal was notified on May 27, 2009. There has since been no further outbreak.

The control measures adopted included stamping out the entire poultry population, including destruction of eggs, feed, litters and other infected materials, in a radius of 3-5 km around each location, restrictions on the movement of poultry and poultry products to and from the area of outbreak, disinfection and cleaning up of infected premises. The final disinfection process was completed on June 8, 2009.

Surveillance was carried out throughout the country as per Article 2.7.12.4 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2008). Surveillance around the area of outbreak since the completion of the operation (including culling, disinfection and clean-up) and surveillance in the rest of the country has shown no evidence of the presence of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1).

It is, however, emphasised that the surveillance against Avian Influenza will have to be continued throughout the country, especially in vulnerable areas bordering the infected countries and in areas visited by migratory birds.

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