Avian Influenza
Poultry to get vaccines after bird flu strikes India
Feb 19, 2006 - 3:48:37 PM

India's Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has said the government would vaccinate poultry in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra where the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has struck.

"Nearly all the birds in the vicinity are going to be vaccinated. About one million doses of bird vaccines are going to go (there)," Ramadoss told reporters late Saturday at the city airport on arriving from Kolkata.

"Around 300,000-500,000 birds are going to be culled in the Nawapur area of the district."

The minister also disclosed that 40,000-50,000 birds had died in the area a week ago and eight-nine samples had tested positive Friday for the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, which is also fatal to human beings.

The minister however said there was no need to panic and all government agencies were working on a war footing to contain the bird flu outbreak, the first in the country.

"There is absolutely no need to panic. The situation is under control. All the personnel are there on the spot. As on date, there is no ban considered on poultry farming, consumption or export," he said.

The minister said there were sufficient stocks of the bird flu vaccine Tamiflu if cases are found in humans.

"There is no problem of drugs. We have sufficient drugs and are in the process of procuring more of them. About 100,000 doses of Tamiflu are with us. Getting additional supplies is not a problem," Ramadoss asserted.

Meanwhile, people working in the affected poultry farms have been quarantined and samples of their blood have been sent for tests to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.

"As of today, there is nobody suspected of showing any symptoms of the bird flu," he said.

All hospitals in the 600 district headquarters across the country are being equipped to deal with any bird flu emergency and protective gear has already been procured for those involved in quarantining.

Furthermore, military helicopters will be on standby to ferry any personnel, drugs and equipment on emergency basis.

"We have been given permission for that by the defence ministry," Ramadoss affirmed.

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