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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
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Medical News : Epidemics : Avian Influenza

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Delhi sounds bird flu alert, urges against panic

Feb 19, 2006 - 3:50:00 PM , Reviewed by: Priya Saxena
"There is no threat of bird flu in Delhi and people should not get panicky. The government is taking all necessary steps and the citizens must show patience at this point of time,"

[RxPG] In the wake of a discovery of the dreaded H5N1 strain of avian flu in Maharashtra, the national capital Sunday sounded an alert but advised Delhiites not to panic.

"There is no threat of bird flu in Delhi and people should not get panicky. The government is taking all necessary steps and the citizens must show patience at this point of time," said N.K. Yadav, deputy municipal health officer, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

"It is better to be alert as a precautionary measure in such a situation," Yadav told IANS.

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), authorities have earmarked 10 rooms equipped with ventilators and other lifesaving equipments to deal with any untoward situation.

"A flow chart of patient management has been developed to treat any emergency. We have also trained over a hundred doctors and scores of support staffs," said Mayank Sharma, AIIMS deputy director - administration and publicity.

"A special squad has been formed, including doctors of different departments like medicine, biotechnology, ENT and anaesthesia. There is a control room and isolated ward to deal with such patients. However, there are no reports of any individuals suffering from the disease," he added.

Apart from AIIMS, there are seven other hospitals in Delhi, including Safdarjung Hospital and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, to treat any patients suffering from bird flu.

"We are totally geared up to deal with any situation. Isolated wards, specially trained doctors and equipment to deal with the disease have all been earmarked. At one go we can treat 35 patients in our hospital and if the situation demands, the number may be increased," said N.K. Chaturvedi, medical superintendent of RML hospital.

"Since there are no reports of bird flu, people should not panic. It is time to deal with the situation in a mature way rather than get nervous and create fear among people," he said.

However, fearing health risks, people in the city started shying away from chicken and flocked counters selling mutton to spice up their holiday meals.

"We know the bird flu was detected in Maharashtra, but prevention is better than cure. On one hand, it would be like a change in taste and on the other, it would help staying away from a probable health risk," said Rajesh Ahuja, a young executive.

Ashwini Swain, another customer, said: "Though we prefer chicken, my family has decided to purchase mutton instead of chicken for a few weeks. When a disease like bird flu has struck an Indian state, it is quite possible that it may reach Delhi."

Mohammad Sajid, a mutton retailer in south Delhi, said he has no time to rest as customers were flocking to his shop.

"Earlier I used to get around 25 to 30 customers a day, but the number has already crossed 100 this morning. Though the price of mutton has not gone up and we are selling at Rs.130 per kg, it may be revised tomorrow (Monday)," Sajid said.

There are also reports that the rate of chicken in the Ghazipur wholesale market has gone down due to a decreasing demand for poultry products.

At least 50,000 chickens are reported to have died in the Navapur village of Nandurbar district, some 300 km from Mumbai.

Since 2003, bird flu has killed about 100 people world over. In 2006, 15 people - seven in Indonesia, four in Turkey, three in China and one in Iraq - have succumbed to the disease.

India is the sixth largest producer of eggs and fifth largest in broiler chicken output. It produced 43 billion eggs and 1.7 billion broilers in 2005, according to poultry industry estimates.

However, exports constitute a small portion of the production, with the Gulf region being the biggest market for Indian poultry.

Publication: Indo-Asian News Service

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