India is bird flu-free

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Gargi Parsai

``No outbreak in the last three months''

  • India adhered to international stamping-out policy
  • Central and State Governments initiated control measures immediately in all the outbreak areas
  • Nearly 67,000 samples were tested by the High Security Disease Laboratory in Bhopal

    NEW DELHI: India has regained its status as an avian influenza-free country.

    The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, under the Ministry of Agriculture, on Friday sent the final report in this regard to the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) (World Organisation of Animal Health).

    India's claim followed no outbreak of bird flu in the last three months.

    Animal Health Code

    Article of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2005) says that a country could regain its status as an avian influenza-free country three months after a stamping-out policy (including disinfection of all affected establishments) is applied, and surveillance, in accordance with Appendix 3.8.9, had been carried out in the three-month period.

    India reported that it has followed the procedure in letter and in spirit.

    Surveillance for H5N1 (clinical, virological and serological) was carried out in a 15 km radius of the affected areas in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

    It was also carried out over the rest of the country.

    The High Security Disease Laboratory in Bhopal tested nearly 67,000 samples since the first outbreak in February 2006.

    Surveillance around the areas of outbreak since completion of operation (including culling, disinfection and clean-up) and the rest of the country showed no evidence of the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza, official sources said.

    First case

    Outbreak of bird flu was first reported on February 18 in Navapur and Uchchal districts of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

    Further outbreak was reported in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra and it spilled over to the adjoining areas of Madhya Pradesh.

    The last outbreak was detected on April 18 in Jalgaon district. There has been no case after April 18.

    The Central and State Governments concerned had initiated control and containment measures immediately in all the outbreak areas.

    Restriction on movement

    These included stamping out the entire poultry population in a radius of 10 km, restrictions on movement of poultry/poultry products and personnel to and from the area of outbreak, disinfection and cleaning up of the infected premises.

    Culling operations in these districts were completed on April 27.

    Final process

    Following the last reported outbreak, the final cleaning up and disinfection process was completed on May 7.

    All the measures adopted helped in preventing the spread of the disease. The Government paid compensation to the poultry owners whose birds were killed.

    The Centre also released a financial relief package for those affected.

    Surveillance to continue

    Considering the global spread of avian influenza and the situation in the neighbouring countries where it is almost endemic, surveillance will continue in the country as a whole especially in the outbreak areas, areas of major poultry concentrations and those visited by migratory birds, the official sources said.

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