25 February 2006 National

Bird flu detected in Guj; Centre says situation under control

Ahmedabad/New Del, Feb 25 (PTI) A week after the bird flu struck Maharashtra's Navapur area, the disease spread to Surat district in Gujarat with two samples of poultry chicken testing positive even as the Centre said there was no need for panic as the area fell in the infected Navapur zone.

The incident of bird flu at Uchchal in Gujarat should not be seen as a new case as the place fell within two-three km radius of Navapur, Animal Husbandry Secretary P M A Hakeem told PTI in New Delhi.

"There is absolutely no need to panic as Uchchal falls in the infected Navapur zone. This should not be seen as a separate incident as two areas are adjoining," he said.

Hakeem stoutly maintained there was no case of human transmission of avian flu in the country so far.

The Gujarat government intensified culling operations after two samples from a poultry farm in Uchchal in Surat district tested positive for bird flu.

The Surat authorities also launched a drive to disinfect affected areas and to vaccinate people connected with the poultry industry.

"Culling operations have resumed in and around Uchchal and interior villages. Two samples of poultry chicken taken from a farm in Uchchal have tested positive for avian flu," Gujarat Secretary (Cow Breeding and Protection) D K Rao said in Ahmedabad.

The samples were taken from Timoli farm and were sent to a laboratory in Bhopal on February 13, he said adding the Centre revealed the result yesterday.

Authorities had earlier this week culled over 73,000 chickens and destroyed thousands of eggs in Surat, Uchchal and areas adjoining adjoining Navapur.Meanwhile, the situation in the bird flu-hit Navapur, where culling of fowls had been completed, is slowly returning to normal. Except for the disposal of litter in poultries, all other operations were likely to end within two-three days, Secretary (Public Health Department), Dr Vijay Satbir Singh, said.

The medical report of a person in an isolation ward in Navapur had tested negative, he said adding so far, no bird flu cases in humans were confirmed in the state.

The National Institute of Virology had informed the state government that all the 95 human blood or throat swab samples received by it had tested negative, he said.

In Maharashtra's Akola district, hundreds of chickens had died in Hingna village in the past two days but officials said the deaths were not due to bird flu.

Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Department officials said the deaths were due to white dysentry.

In an unrelated incident, over 3,000 chicks died at a poultry farm at Sodhpur in Burdwan district of West Bengal in the past one week, triggering fears of avian flu.

Of the 4,500 chicks in the farm, 3162 died in the past seven days.

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OUTLOOK 25 February, 2006