By Mike Burns
YANGON, Myanmar: Myanmar's ruling junta said the country was thoroughly rid of the bird-flu problem as indicated by a 3-month long official survey program.
In a report on the state-run media, the government declared Myanmar as a bird-flu-free country, suggesting the international support it had in fighting the disease had resulted in success.
Myanmar's Livestock and Fisheries Ministry based the report on the findings of a three-month long program conducted to determine if the virus remained present in any of its towns. Burmese officials were assisted in the effort by foreign experts using latest technology.
The study had commenced on April 29. Earlier that same month the government had banned all transport of poultry products from and between the affected townships. Officials had even announced that the disease was under control since April 8.
The country had carried out sweeping prevention-control operations ever since some incidences of H5N1 virus were reported from Mandalay and Sagaing towns in March. About 545 poultry businesses had had to be shut down after 342,000 chickens and 320,000 quails were culled and 1.3 tons of poultry feed and eggs were destroyed. Besides these efforts, all poultry farms were asked to restructure their facilities.
Support from overseas included a $1.8m program educating the public about ways to prevent bird-flu. The cost of this campaign was shared by the Myanmar government, private media and UNICEF. The Red Crescent Society and International Federation of the Red Cross had also contributed funds towards similar information programs.
The detection program was initiated soon after an April report saying that the Livestock and Fisheries ministry had succeeded in bringing the disease under control. On May 1 the government had also lifted the restrictions to reassure the people that the virus was no longer present.
The findings of the study were forwarded to the World Health Organization and the international community.