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Indian Government: No Reason For Worry About Bird Flu

The incidence of bird flu in Maharashtra has prompted a bird flu panic across the whole country. The Indian Government has however said that there is no reason for panic even after thousands of chickens were culled as a protective measure. //

Across the country, state governments began taking precautions against the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian flu that is known to spread to humans.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh visited Navapur village of Nandurbar district, some 300 km from Mumbai, where the virus was confirmed. He inspected efforts being made to contain the spread of the disease.

In Andhra Pradesh, the country's largest producer of poultry with a market share of Rs.30 billion ($676 million), over 500 samples taken across the state tested negative.

Tamil Nadu has banned trucks carrying poultry products from Maharashtra, while trucks from other regions were being sprayed with insecticide. Karnataka and Goa sealed their borders with Maharashtra, while Chhattisgarh also issued an alert.

In Jharkhand, the government asked all district hospitals to prepare special wards and the health department was told to set up a help-line to deal with the possible outbreak of bird flu.

Sri Lanka and Nepal banned the import of poultry products, even as a number of India's domestic airlines took chicken and mayonnaise off their menus.

Making a statement in parliament, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said: "A series of strategic actions have been initiated immediately on confirmation of avian influenza. I would like to assure the house and the public that there is no cause for panic.

"I would like to point out that as per WHO recommendations, poultry and poultry products can be safely consumed if cooked to 70 degrees in all parts of the food.

In a separate statement, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said: "We immediately deputed rapid reaction teams to Navapur.
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