Avian Influenza
Northeast states in India sound bird flu alert
Feb 22, 2006 - 3:11:37 PM

The bird flu scare across India has led to prices of fish and mutton in the northeast skyrocketing as sales of poultry and eggs plummet to an all time low.

Some regional states like Mizoram and Tripura have banned the import of poultry and eggs from other Indian states as well as Bangladesh and Myanmar to prevent the spread of the global disease that is known to spread from birds to humans.

"There is a drop in sales of chicken and eggs in the northeast by about 40 percent in recent days," said Pranjit Pratim Koch, technical director of the Northeastern Poultry and Egg Federation.

There has been no reported case of bird flu in the northeast, but the spread of the virus in other states has led to panic in the region. "People have stopped eating chicken and even eggs and so the demand for fish and mutton has gone up manifold during the past week," said veterinarian Bhairab Kanta Sharma.

With the demand for fish and mutton on the rise, traders in Assam and other northeastern states have hiked prices of the two commodities.

"Butchers and fish mongers have increased their prices by Rs.15 to Rs.25 a kg," Lonkeswar Das, a resident of Assam's main city of Guwahati, said.

All the seven regional states - Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Tripura - have sounded a maximum alert to prevent the outbreak of bird flu in the region.

"Although there are no reports of any bird flu in our state yet, we have prohibited import of chicken and eggs from other states and even from Myanmar as a precautionary measure," said C. Sangnghina, Mizoram's animal husbandry and veterinary director.

Similar alerts were also sounded in Tripura. "We have banned import of poultry and eggs from other states and Bangladesh as precautionary measures and asked the airport authorities, all check posts, and border trade centres to immediately enforce the directive," a state government official said.

The Assam government has set up control rooms in bordering areas with West Bengal for the public to report any signs of bird flu in the state.

"We are fully prepared and are sounding an alert across the state. However, there is no need for panic," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

A similar alert was sounded by the Assam wildlife authorities alerting its rangers and veterinarians to monitor signs of avian flu in migratory birds flocking national parks and sanctuaries.

"We are concerned as many of the wildlife sanctuaries here received thousands of migratory birds from all over the world," an Assam wildlife official said.

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