Meena Menon

A resident dies, two family members under observation

Eight persons in hospital with flu symptomsPoultry farms empty at Teen Temba

NAVAPUR (Maharashtra): The death of a Navapur resident in Surat has triggered a panic reaction among people here about the spread of avian influenza. Ramesh Wagh died of viral pneumonia on February 17. Two of his family members are under observation in the sub-district hospital here.

According to civil surgeon M.V. Munde, eight persons, including two women and four children, are in the hospital with various symptoms of flu. On Sunday blood samples, along with nasal and throat swabs, of 31 persons were sent to the National Institute of Virology. The results are expected in a few days.

The Government is conducting house-to-house surveys at and around Navapur to detect symptoms of possible infection. S.J. Matha, principal of the Nashik-based Health and Family Training Centre, who is in charge, says daily surveys of the human population will be conducted for 10 days. Navapur has a population of 38,079, while there are 19,050 people in the 18 villages around it.

Under the survey, started on Sunday, people are asked if anyone has reported symptoms of fever, cold, throat ache, cough, body pain, conjunctivitis or diarrhoea. The residents have also to answer questions whether they have any dead poultry to report and where they travelled to in the last 15 days. The incubation period of the avian influenza in humans is one to five days.

About 150 health workers are conducting the survey. About 20 persons, who showed symptoms, were sent to the sub-district hospital. Most of them were treated and allowed to go home. It is reported poultry owned by one of the women, admitted to the hospital, died in Wajda village, about 25 km from here.

Dr. Matha and his team visited the outskirts of Navapur. In a bylane, Fatima and her husband run a shop selling broilers. About 85 birds are kept in the backyard. "Today the Government came and said we have to destroy all the birds. I don't understand why. It is impossible for us to kill these birds and so the Government will take them away. I don't know about any compensation," she said. She sells the broilers, all from Nashik, at Rs. 70 a kg.

In the Teen Temba area, Surjabai Ankush Gosavi said her two daughters-in-law and her grandson went to the hospital on Monday after they developed fever. Some hens died in the last eight days in her daughter-in-law's house and the carcasses were buried on the roadside.

Near the Teen Temba area, there is a long line of poultry farms, completely empty. Mahesh Buwa, a health worker, said he had surveyed 86 houses here till afternoon, and received reports of hens dying in five homes. However, there was no report of any person falling ill.

In this area, full of landless labourers, there is little fear of avian flu. Each house has a small stock of hens running all over the place. Director of Health Services Pramod Doke said there was no confirmation of avian flu in humans. The outbreak was only among the poultry.