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Avian Influenza: Government to set up expert committee

The Government in its determination to gear up to meet the avian flu threat, has decided to set up an expert committee to keep a close watch on bird flu cases and also to suggest preventive measures.//

Animal Husbandry Secretary P M A Hakeem said "Though we have no cases of bird flu in the country, we want to take precautionary measures and the committee to be formed will include representatives from poultry industry". The Secretary said the Central Government has issued instructions to all state governments to strictly monitor any death at the poultry firm and livestock species.

Ruling out any possibility of bringing in avian flu through imported frozen poultry products, Hakeem asserted that nothing comes into the country from nations where traces of avian flu have been reported, and the country, as on date, is completely free from menace of the bird flu.

Animal husbandry departments have also been asked to keep strong vigil on the migratory birds in their respective states and look for any change in the behaviour of the bird, he said.

The Central Government has already issued instructions for mode of surveillance along with collection, preservation and dispatch of samples to designated laboratories. In a recently held meeting with State Animal Husbandry Secretaries and other senior officers, the states' preparedness to combat any eventuality was reviewed. 'We are keeping a close watch on the situation. Extensive surveillance is on for both domestic poultry and migratory birds,'Hakeem said.

The surveillance, which also included laboratory tests, has shown India to be free from bird-flu, he said and added,'There is absolutely no need for any worry on this.'

The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF) through State Animal Husbandry departments is keeping a close eye on the whole situation. UP-based Central Disease Diagnostic Laboratory along with its four regiona l centers in Pune, Jalandhar, Bangalore and Kolkata are extending scientific inputs on the issue, Hakeem said.

He recalled that even when the disease rocked the Southeast Asian economy last year, India did not have any instance of bird flu.

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