Assam bird flu due to migratory birds: Ramadoss

November 29th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Anbumani RamadossChennai, Nov 29 (IANS) Migratory birds are behind the fresh outbreak of bird flu in Assam, Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Saturday, adding that culling operations had started in the northeastern state and “inter-country bird movements are under close scrutiny”.”Yes, we are concerned and this new outbreak is mainly due to migratory birds,” Ramadoss told IANS.

“We are taking measures to control it, and let me assure that everything is under control. A team from the central health ministry has already gone to Assam and is helping authorities there,” he added.

The minister said he has been keeping a close eye on the development and was closely monitoring the situation along with the animal husbandry department, which is under the central agricultural ministry.

He said all possible help would be provided to the state government in terms of human resource, medicine, masks and other preventive measures.

On Thursday, the outbreak of bird flu in Assam was confirmed after laboratory tests confirmed strains of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza. More than 300 birds died in the past week in Kamrup district of Assam.

“The culling operation has started and inter country bird movements are under close scrutiny,” the minister said, adding that the bird flu outbreaks in the past had helped India “gain experience to handle such situation”.

Asked about the frequent bird flu outbreaks in India, Ramadoss said: “Winter is a favourable period for the spread of bird flu. These migratory birds come southwards (to India) from other countries.”

While saying that there is “no need to panic”, he added that these “migratory bird movements cannot be stopped completely”.

Meanwhile, authorities in Assam have culled over 12,000 of the estimated 60,000 birds to be killed.

The culling of ducks and chicken is being carried out in 48 villages within a 5 km radius of village Thakurchuba in Kamrup district, about 40 km west of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

About 20 Rapid Response Teams, each comprising about seven personnel including a veterinarian, are engaged in the culling that is expected to continue for about a week until the entire area is sanitized.

India has witnessed several outbreaks of bird flu earlier in states like Maharashtra, West Bengal and a few northeastern states.

India has been pointing fingers at Bangladesh and Thailand for the spread of the disease.

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