Monday, February 20, 2006

No Fear of Bird Flu in India

Indian style of cooking kills bird flu virus

It can't survive Indian summer

Virus sensitive to common disinfectants
Need to dispose of culled birds
Report sighting dead birds to authorities

NEW DELHI: The Government on Sunday said it was safe to consume well-cooked chicken and eggs since the Indian style of cooking, involving deep-frying and boiling, killed the bird flu virus.

Highly sensitive to heat, the bird flu virus would not survive the harsh Indian summer. The avian influenza virus is sensitive to common disinfectants such as detergents, 10 per cent household bleach, alcohol and other commercial disinfectants. It is, however, difficult to inactivate when the virus is encrusted in organic material like faeces or soil.


Affected birds display symptoms like tremors, diarrhoea, head tilt, staggering and paralysis.

Close contact with infected birds can lead to human infection. Human beings, especially children, who come in contact with live infected birds, their mucus, droppings or even feathers stand a risk of getting infected. Symptoms of infection in human beings are similar to that of flu, namely difficulty in breathing, high fever, cold and running nose.

Avoid contact with chicken

While officials in the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare and Department of Animal Husbandry have asked people, particularly poultry farmers, chicken sellers, handlers and transporters, to avoid direct contact with chicken, they have also stressed the need to dispose of culled birds to control the spread of infection.

The Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) cull, dispose of and vaccinate birds in infected areas. Besides being administered Tamiflu, the RRT personnel wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The health status of cullers is being monitored and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has despatched 9,000 doses of Tamiflu, 2,000 sets of PPE to Maharashtra and 2,000 doses of medicine and 1,000 PPE to Gujarat.

The Veterinary and Forest Department staff who handle wild and migratory birds must wear rubber gloves, eyewear and protective clothing that can be disinfected or disposed of. The work surfaces and equipment used for testing have to be disinfected regularly and extra precautions must be taken not to eat, drink or smoke while handling these birds.

If one is in direct contact with infected birds or a contaminated environment, one must take an influenza anti-viral drug daily.

Sample collection

Those involved in sample collection have been instructed to see that wild birds are not harmed during collection of serum samples. Preference should be given to the leg vein instead of the wing vein while collecting samples as collection from the latter often results in haemorrhage, affecting the bird's flight. Collection of samples, packing and transportation is to be done in collaboration with trained staff from the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary departments.

All Chief Wildlife Wardens have been instructed to report bird deaths to the Ministry and assist the district veterinary authority while collecting serum and blood samples of dead birds.

Bird watchers too must report any sighting of a dead bird to the nearest Forest or Animal Husbandry office.

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Control rooms set up

The Union Health and Family Affairs Ministry has set up a round-the-clock control room at Nirman Bhavan here.

The telephone number is 23061302 and the fax number 23061457.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases at Sham Nath Marg has also established a control room. The telephone number is 23921401 and the fax number 23913028.
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