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BIRD HIT

To stop the spread of bird flu among poultry, a 3-km radius around the infected farms at Navapur village in Nandurbar (Maharashtra) has been cordoned off and all transport and trading of poultry has been banned in the area. The population from the area's 19 villages is under the strict surveillance of medical experts. A door-to-door survey is being conducted for any flu symptoms and an isolation ward has been set up at Navapur to treat any suspected bird flu case.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 01:00 IST

To stop the spread of bird flu among poultry, a 3-km radius around the infected farms at Navapur village in Nandurbar (Maharashtra) has been cordoned off and all transport and trading of poultry has been banned in the area. The population from the area's 19 villages is under the strict surveillance of medical experts. A door-to-door survey is being conducted for any flu symptoms and an isolation ward has been set up at Navapur to treat any suspected bird flu case.

Livestock department officials began beheading and gassing thousands of chickens, ducks and turkeys in the infected area on Sunday. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said in Mumbai that nine lakh affected birds were being slaughtered to stop spread of the disease.

No further poultry deaths have reported from the surrounding districts.
‘Culling’ operations also carried out at four poultry farms in the Uchchhal area of Surat, close to Nadurbar.

Meanwhile, initial findings indicate the 1,000 chickens that died in Etawah were suffering from bacterial infection due to unhygienic conditions -- and not bird flu, which is caused by a virus. Still, samples from the farm are being sent to Bhopal to rule out bird flu completely.

The 126 samples sent to Bhopal from West Bengal last week were part of routine surveillance, and not sent on suspicion of bird flu.
How did the flu get here?

No one seems to know. The department of animal husbandry says transmission through migratory birds is not confirmed - anyway the migration season is over now, and if they were the source, the outbreak would have started in October/November last year. It is tracking illegal import of live poultry - which could have been infected -- into the area.

The H5NI virus that causes bird flu has already mutated thrice -- in Vietnam, China-Indonesia and Turkey. The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory is determining which strain has arrived in India or whether it is an altogether new strain.
How many people been infected in India so far?

No human case of bird flu has been confirmed. Not taking chances, the government has, however, kept seven people with symptoms of cold and fever in isolation at the Navapur sub-district hospital.

Ninety-five blood samples from people who work at the infected poultry farms and have symptoms of cold and fever have been sent to Pune's National Institute of Virology (51 samples) and Delhi's National Institute of Communicable Diseases (44 samples). Results will be available in four days.

Initial tests show the 28-year-old who died in Surat on Friday night with symptoms similar to bird flu died of bacterial infection. His blood sample has been sent to Bhopal to rule out bird flu positively.

First Published: Feb 20, 2006 01:00 IST