India declares itself bird flu-free

India has declared itself free from bird flu (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza). The declaration was made here on December 29, 2011, and notified to the OIE (Office International des Epizooties, which later became the World Organisation for Animal Health). However, states have been advised to keep up the vigil, according to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying.

If there is no outbreak of the disease for three consecutive months, a country can declare itself free from bird flu. The last outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was reported on September 19, 2011, from Betai Nanshatola and Putimari Christianpara in Tehetta Block of Nadia district, West Bengal. There were 849 deaths of birds in rural backyard poultry.

Before that, India had declared an outbreak on September 8, 2011, at Bhamondanga village, part- I, Agomoni Block in Dhubri district of Assam. There were 1,436 deaths in rural backyard poultry and as many as 15,409 birds were culled in the vicinity. The bird flu-free declaration is essential to re-building the export market in the sector.