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E-Pao! Essay - Controlling Bird Flu

Controlling Bird Flu

By:- Allah Bukhsh *



India is on the world map as one of the leading egg producing countries. During recent years, avian influenza had remained a threat. So far seven EU nations - Hungry, France, Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Slovenia have confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

The Government of India continued its vigilance to ensure that there is no ingress of avian influenza from the affected countries by banning the import of live poultry and poultry products.

Even then… the situation of bird flu in Maharashtra and Gujarat has been brought under control and is being constantly monitored.

Maharashtra

The Rapid Response team of the Union Health Ministry along with the State teams are carrying out house to house active surveillance to identify suspected cases among contacts of infected poultry. They have covered a population of 14,000 of which 104 cases of Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) were detected. None of them has history of contact with the infected poultry.

In addition, 74 workers of 16 affected farms are under surveillance and no one has fever. Health status of cullers are being monitored. None of them has fever.

The Navapur sub-district hospital has been strengthened. 26 beds have been earmarked for treatment of human avain influenza cases (12 isolation beds; 10 observation beds and 4 ICU beds) and dedicated staff identified. Earmarked ambulances are present to transport patients to Dhule Medical College, the identified referral hospital.

None of the persons under observation has any pneumonia. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has dispatched adequate stock of Tamiflu and PPE to Maharashtra.

Gujarat

The Rapid Response teams of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and state teams are carrying out house to house active surveillance to identify suspected cases among contacts of infected poultry.

They have covered a population of 42,000 in 27 villages of which 131 cases of URI were detected. None of them has history of contact with the infected poultry. 41 persons detected with history of working in affected farms are asymptomatic but kept under surveillance.

In addition, health status of 50 cullers are being monitored. All are healthy.

The Vyara Community Health Centre has been strengthened. 20 isolation beds have been earmarked for treatment of human avian influenza cases. Additional staff has also been put in place. Earmarked ambulances are present to transport patients to Surat Medical College, the identified referral hospital.

Health Ministry has dispatched adequate stock of Tamiflu and PPE to Gujarat.

As on date there is no human case of Avian Influenza.

Facts About Bird Flu

* Avian Influenza has infected poultry in several countries of Asia, Africa and Europe.
* The virus being highly contagious, bird flu (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza HPAI) has the potential to cause large scale loss of poultry.
* Close contact with infected birds can lead to human infection also.
* Human beings - especially children – who come into contact with live infected birds or their mucus/droppings/feathers are at risk of getting infected.
* Symptoms of infection in humans can be similar to ‘Flu’ which is – difficulty in breathing, high fever, cold, running nose. In case of any suspicion immediately report to medical authorities.

Counter Measures

Government has State-of-the-art laboratories to detect Avian Influenza virus in birds and humans. People involved in the poultry sector have been advised to follow safe practices to avoid infection.

Animal husbandry, environment and other poultry-related personnel have been trained to detect, report and contain outbreaks, if any. Culling of infected birds and their safe disposal is important to control the infection in birds. Hospitals have been designated and equipped to deal with human infection.

Ministry of Home Affairs have issued advisories to Chief Secretaries of all States/Union Territories to keep poultry under surveillance and report above average mortality and any unusual sickness of poultry/migratory birds in the said district to Department of Animal Husbandry and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Round the clock control room is functioning from EMR Division

(Tel.No.23061302; FAX : 23061457)
and from

National Institute of Communicable Diseases,
22, Sham Nath Marg
(Tel.23921401; FAX : 23913028),
New Delhi.

Eat Cooked Chicken

The public, in general, and every stakeholder, in particular, are advised to report sick or dead birds to the Animal Husbandry Department immediately without fail.

As situation is under control, there is no reason for panic.

Under the circumstances, consuming well-cooked chicken and eggs is hygienically safe.


Allah Bukhsh wrote this article in The Sangai Express
The writer is a DPR, Press Information Bureau (PIB), New Delhi
This article was webcasted on 26 th March 2006.


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