India prepared to deal with bird flu: Govt

New Delhi: In the wake of the international agriculture monitoring and research body Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) issuing an alert for bird flu, the Indian government Wednesday said it is prepared to handle any situation.

"A few reports have come out in the press mentioning an FAO alert against a new and deadly mutant strain of avian influenza, popularly known as Bird Flu. The government has taken note of the FAO`s alert and is prepared for any eventuality," an agriculture ministry statement said.

FAO, in a statement issued Aug 29, has "urged heightened readiness and surveillance against a possible major resurgence of the H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza amid signs that a mutant strain of the deadly Bird Flu virus is spreading in Asia and beyond, with unpredictable risks to human health".

The agriculture ministry statement sought to allay the fears, saying a standard procedure was followed when ever any case was reported and this has so far kept the situation in control.

"Outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred in several countries in Asia for some time now. India has successfully handled all outbreaks in the country ever since the first outbreak of avian influenza in February 2006."

According to the government, the last outbreak of bird flu which hit the northeastern India in February this year was controlled effectively.

"The last outbreak took place during February-March, 2011, in Tripura. After following prescribed control and containment procedures the country was declared free from the disease with effect from July 4, 2011".

The ministry said the states have been asked to report any outbreak of the disease to be reported without delay. It also said that a good laboratory infrastructure including the High Security Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Bhopal (under the Indian Council of Agricultural research), and the regional disease diagnostic laboratories exist as part of the disease surveillance and control programme.

"Blood and tissue supply of poultry from different regions are tested regularly in these laboratories as a part of disease surveillance," the statement added.


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