Goa battles rumours about swine flu

April 29th, 2009 - 12:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 29 (IANS) The Goa administration Wednesday denied alarming media reports that claimed that more than a hundred pigs had died of swine fever in some piggeries of the state.
“There have been no deaths from swine flu. I have been in touch with the department of animal husbandry, which has inspected the piggeries mentioned in the reports. There is nothing amiss,” state epidemiologist Rajendra Tamba told IANS.

The reports said that nearly 110 pigs had succumbed to swine flue in two piggeries located at Siolim in North Goa and Velsao in South Goa in the last 10 days.

“A statewide alert has been sounded and close watch is being kept on the movement and behaviour of pigs. Till date, no pig has died of swine flu in Goa,” said animal husbandry department director H. Faleiro.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Home Minister Ravi Naik Tuesday evening held several rounds of meetings with health, tourism and animal husbandry departments to look at ways to stave off the flu and arrest panic.

“The central health ministry has identified Goa as one of the places that could be hit by the flu as a large number of tourists visit the state. We are taking every measure to prevent an outbreak,” Kamat said.

Tamba said health department officials were in constant touch with their counterparts at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, where all the throat swabs of swine flu suspects would be sent for analysis.

“More than a dozen charter flights carrying tourists are expected to fly in during the next fortnight. Our counters at the airports will screen people for symptoms of swine flu,” he said.

“We are also in the process of tracking down the 500-odd tourists who landed in Goa during the last 10 days. Our public health centres and sub centres have already been activated,” Tamba added.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease that usually affects pigs but has now started infecting humans by spreading through direct contact with infected pigs and in some cases from human to human contact through coughing, sneezing or touching infected surfaces and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

Symptoms include fever, lethargy and lack of appetite, coughing, running nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already called swine flu a global health concern.

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