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Bird flu: Jharkhand on high alert

All district hospitals in Jharkhand have been asked to prepare special wards as the state government has gone on high alert to deal with the possible threat.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 15:50 IST

All district hospitals in Jharkhand have been asked to prepare special wardsas the state government has gone on high alert to deal with the possible outbreak of bird flu.

The health department has also been told to set up a helpline for people seeking information on the avian flu.

At a high level meeting hurriedly called on Sunday by development commissioner T Nandkumar, officials were given a crash course on the symptoms and preventive measures of the virus.

Officials were particularly asked to keep a close watch on places like Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dumka where migratory birds arrive.

All 22 district medical officers have been asked to constitute separate wards in government hospitals and stock medicines to deal with emergencies.

News of the outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza from Nandurbar district in Maharashtra led to chicken sales dipping in most parts of the state.

"Sales have gone down drastically -- by almost 60 per cent in just two days," said Umesh Singh, president of the Jharkhand Poultry Association. Most hotels and restaurants have stopped making chicken dishes and switched to mutton, prices of which have increased by about 40 per cent.

Known to spread to human beings, the H5N1 strain of bird flu has so far resulted in nearly 100 human casualties across Southeast Asia, mostly in Vietnam. It has been reported in seven countries.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 12:09 IST