20th Feb, 2006 - Bird flu outbreak in Nandurbar in Maharashtra has created panic in poultry and associated sectors. News of death of 1,000 chickens at a farm in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, has added to the panic. Reports, however, suggested the cause of death as a fungal infection and not bird flu.
“The panic is unnecessary. People at risk are those who were in direct contract with infected birds and not those eating cooked chicken or eggs,” said Dr Silvaraj, head (South India), National Egg Coordination Committee.
Delhi-based Maurya Sheraton’s General Manager Deepak Haksar said, “We are serving chicken to the guests. There is no alert by the city administration. Our supply is of good quality.”
Bombay Municipal Corporation Commissioner Johny Joseph said people need not panic at this stage as the situation was under control.
Nandurbar and Dhule districts in Maharashtra are the only areas that have been affected. “Precautionary measures are in place to prevent the flu from spreading further. Thus there is no reason for the Tamil Nadu or the Delhi market to panic,” said Shyam Kuldeep Singh, general manager (north) with Venkateshwara Hatcheries.
The outbreak of bird flu was declared following death of 50,000 birds in the region. Since then, about 2 lakh chickens have been slaughtered there.
Most state governments have decided to meet the industry members to prepare for any exigency.
“There is no problem whatsoever in Tamil Nadu, the largest chicken market in South India, which consumes 40 lakh birds a week. No incident has been reported so far. The Animal Husbandry department has, however, called for a meeting with the industry members and medical experts tomorrow in Chennai to work on preventive as well as remedial measures,” said R. Laxmanan, chairman of the state’s Broiler Coordination Committee.
Associated industries like feed, which include soymeal, wheat barn, maize, other fibrous feed and vitamins are, however, likely to be hit in the short term.
India’s annual consumption of poultry feed is about 25 million tonne, said Rajesh Agarwal, president of the Soybean Oil Processors Association. “Out of this, soymeal is about 2 million tonne. The panic situation is likely to affect the domestic soymeal demand for at least the next one and a half months,” Agarwal added.