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India free from bird flu

The Indian government has declared to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that the country is free from bird flu (H5N1).

From Nov 2008 to May 2009, India had notified outbreaks of avian influenza (H5N1) in Assam (18 epicentres), West Bengal (11) and Sikkim (1).

The most recent outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 was notified on 27 May in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal. There have been no further outbreaks.

Applied control measures included culling, destruction of eggs, feed, litters and other infected materials, in a radius of 3-5 km around outbreak regions, restrictions on the movement of poultry and poultry products to and from these areas, disinfection and cleaning up of infected premises. The final disinfection process was completed on 8 June, 2009.

Surveillance in all of the country has not shown evidence of the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza. however, surveillance will have to be continued throughout the country, especially in vulnerable areas neighbouring infected regions and in areas visited by migratory birds.

The central government has requested the states not to fall into complacency due to declaration of the country’s being free from highly pathogenic avian influenza and maintain vigil against the disease.

Natalie Berkhout

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