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No More Chicken Feed

Published on 26 February, 2006, Last updated at 11:17 GMT

25th Feb, 2006: It was typically Indian. Even before the government announced that bird flu has struck India on Saturday, 50,000 birds had died in two weeks in two districts of Maharashtra's poultry belt.

Senior officials in the animal husbandry department said the cause of death was initially thought to be "ranikhet" and not bird flu.

Caught napping, the government swung into action on Saturday, issuing alerts and culling the birds.

Within a week, more than 3 lakh birds, 3 lakh eggs and 18.2 metric tonne of poultry feed were disposed of within a 10 km buffer zone.

The government, throughout the week, maintained that the infection was restricted to the birds and there were no cases of humans being affected.

Animal rights activists wasted no time in going for the kill, exhorting people to go green to combat the flu.

"The battle against bird flu begins with your fork... wipe the meat from your diet and go vegetarian," a release by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said.

By Friday, the situation was more-or-less brought under control, with the whole government machinery working overtime.


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