Flu reaches Gujarat

SIX POULTRY samples from the Uchchal taluka in Gujarat?s Surat district have tested positive for the H5N1 virus that causes bird flu. The findings indicate that bird flu has crossed to Gujarat from Maharashtra?s Navapur district, where the outbreak was confirmed on February 18.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2006 15:07 IST

SIX POULTRY samples from the Uchchal taluka in Gujarat’s Surat district have tested positive for the H5N1 virus that causes bird flu. The findings indicate that bird flu has crossed to Gujarat from Maharashtra’s Navapur district, where the outbreak was confirmed on February 18.

Saturday’s confirmation comes 10 days after 13 samples from the Timol and National poultry farms in Uchchal, were sent to the Centre’s High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory in Bhopal on February 14.

Culling and disinfecting of the farms has already been done, since the farms are within the 3-km radius of the infected site in Navapur, said animal husbandry joint secretary Upma Chawdhry.

The findings have, however, widened the infected zone by a radius of a few more kilometers. “Taking Uchchal as the epicentre, the infected zone will now increase from 28 to 38 villages. In Surat, 88,000 chicken had been culled since the first outbreak. Today 20,000 birds would be killed,” said Gujarat breeding and protection secretary, D.K. Rao.

But the officials are yet to answer how the flu reached Uchchal. “We’re still exploring the migratory bird route. But though we have tested thousands of them, not one has tested positive for H5N1,” said HSADL joint director, Dr H. K. Pradhan.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat health department has discharged 11 persons from the Vyara government hospital after their blood samples tested negative. Door-to-door survey is on in Uchchal taluka, from where 76 samples from people with cough and fever were sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology and Delhi’s National Institute for Communicable Disease. But
unlike Navapur, the district administration has no plans to quarantine Uchchal.

First Published: Feb 26, 2006 15:07 IST