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Bird flu in India

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Initial reaction

The first reports of bird flu in India came from the village of Nawapur in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra on 19th February 2006. Villagers reported a large number of bird deaths in the village. Maharashtra State Animal Husbandry Ministry authorities rushed to the spot. Lab analysis proved that the poultry was indeed affected with the H5N1 virus.

Government response

Soon after the presence of the virus was confirmed culling operations began. 253000 birds and 587000 eggs were destroyed within 5 days. Villagers who were exhibiting flu-like symptoms were quarantined and kept under observation. Blood samples from 150 persons has been sent to the National Institute of Virology,Pune for analysis. Movement of people into the area is strictly regulated and passenger trains have been instructed not to halt at Nawapur. Governments of States which border Maharashtra have banned the import of poultry from the latter. Some other State Governments like those of Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir have also introduced similar restrictions. The Government of India has asked pharmaceutical companies like Cipla to manufacture anti-flu medication. The Government has also started stockpiling Tamiflu. The Indian Army is on alert to aid in evacuation operations and drug-distribution measures if the situation worsens.

Grievances of locals

The poultry industry is the main source of income for the people of Nawapur who claim the Government is overreacting. According to them, the cause of the bird deaths is in fact the seasonal Ranikhet disease and not bird-flu. They allege that the compensation guaranteed to them by the Government after culling has not yet been handed to them. They also say the media has created an unnecessary clamour over the incident.

Economic Impact

Prices of chicken products across India have plummeted resulting in a steep rise in the prices of mutton and fish. The poultry industry is expected to lose hundreds of millions of Rupees because of this. Airlines including Air India,Jet Airways,Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines have struck chicken off their inflight menus.

Official response

Both the State and Central Governments have denied any overreaction. The Centre says it has enough supplies of Tamiflu and that there is no cause for worry.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bird_flu_in_India". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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