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Home > News > Report

Mumbai gears up to tackle bird flu

BS Bureau | February 20, 2006 10:26 IST

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has set up a 24-hour control room in Mumbai to monitor the situation following confirmed cases of bird flu in the state.

It has also instructed all the five octroi points, where veterinary doctors have been deputed round-the-clock, to allow poultry into the city only after proper screening.

Besides, the BMC health officials are manning the central disaster control room 24 hours, Municipal Commissioner Johny Joseph said on Sunday night.

The civic body is in touch with the director of state health services and the departments concerned.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has spoken to Animal Husbandry Minister Anees Ahmed and Public Health Minister Vimal Mundada and asked them to take steps to check the spread of the disease.

Mundada said health department officials will conduct a house-to-house survey to check if anybody has been affected by the disease. She added that twenty medical teams had already been assigned this task.

Two persons from Vajada village, 15 km from Nandurbar, suspected to be infected by the virus, had been admitted to hospital, sources said, adding that it was being ascertained whether they were suffering from the disease.

Of the 12 to 13 lakh birds in the affected Navapur tehsil, around 900,000 had been culled since Sunday, the sources said.

Hospitals in Mumbai have taken precautionary steps. Sources said the Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases has kept 10 beds ready and the Kem Hospital two separate wards of 25 beds.

The authorities have also started a drive in affected areas of Nandurbar and adjoining regions, asking people not to panic.

Health department officials said of the 49 poultry farms in Navapur tehsil, 16 had been affected by bird flu. Nashik Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Chahande said orders had been issued to prohibit transport and sale of poultry products in the affected area.

The affected poultry farms in and around the Navapur tehsil have been sealed and the state government will pay Rs 40 for every bird culled. "We have asked all the poultry farms here to be sealed and submit a report as to how the birds got infected," Ahmed said.

The minister said the district collector had been asked to keep a record of the culled birds.

He assured the people that the infection was confined to Navapur and the region bordering Gujarat and had not spread to other areas. "Therefore, there is no need to panic," he said.

Asked if any international agency's help had been sought, the minister said, "Only the Maharashtra government is dealing with the incident and no help is sought from outside."

About 1,200 safety kits and an equal number of face masks have been brought to Navapur from neighbouring districts and will be given to farm workers and doctors, Ahmed said.

"We have an adequate stock of vaccines," he added.

Experts from Delhi have arrived and are visiting poultry farms, the minister said.

Meanwhile, demand and prices of poultry products took a beating in Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh but remained unaffected in the rest of the country.

Sales in Mumbai dropped with traders saying customers were wary after reports that the strain of the deadly H5N1 virus was found in some birds. There has been no drastic drop in prices, though. However, if the disease and the panic triggered by it was not checked, the prices would drop, said the owner of a poultry shop in central Mumbai.

Wholesalers at Crawford Market said chicken was selling at Rs 50 per kg but was likely to drop in the next few days. This, despite the fact that most chicken sold in Mumbai comes from Pune.

Other districts in the state also reported a drop in sales.

Meanwhile, the Centre has assured the states that sufficient vaccines for poultry as well as personal protective equipment have been ordered to combat any exigency.

"There is no need to panic. The situation is under control," said Animal Husbandry Commissioner SK Bandyopadhyay. "We have asked the Maharashtra government to intensify vaccination drives," he said.

Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have banned the entry of poultry products from Maharashtra. The prices of locally bred birds have gone up in Goa.

While prohibiting supply of chickens from Maharashtra, the Karnataka government set up a high-powered committee to monitor the situation.

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