The Bihar government on Friday declared that its poultry had been vaccinated against the H5N1 virus but the assurance did little to allay fears of the people, who have stopped eating chicken and eggs since the bird flu outbreak in neighbouring West Bengal.
The worst hit by the panic wave have been the border areas of Purnia, Kishanganj, Katihar, Araria and Bhagalpur districts that adjoin West Bengal. Sales of chicken and eggs have plummeted there.
"Most people have stopped consuming chicken and eggs after doctors cautioned them," a district administration official in Purnia said.
Kishanganj district magistrate Sridhar Cherevellu said the administration had been alerted and precautionary measures taken. "There is nothing to panic about," he said.
Bihar's Kishanganj and Katihar districts share a border with West Bengal districts of Birbhum and South Dinajpur, worst affected by the bird flu outbreak.
The government is mulling a ban on all private vehicles carrying poultry from West Bengal, official sources said.
"Measures have been initiated for decontamination of both the government and private poultry farms," Anil Kumar, assistant manager, regional poultry farm, Bhagalpur, said.
However, medical consultant AK Sinha said there was threat of the avian flu in the districts because of migratory birds, which were being hunted and sold by some people.
Kishanganj civil surgeon Shabbir Ahmad said Kishanganj Medical College and Hospital has been put on alert for any eventuality.
"The hospital is fully prepared to provide necessary treatment if any symptoms are found in human beings," he said.
Animal husbandry officials in Patna gave a clean chit to the poultry sector after conducting tests on randomly selected chickens.
They urged poultry owners to exercise utmost caution and ensure that chickens are not affected.