Dec. 11: Dispur today sounded a grim warning over the probable spread of avian influenza to humans, saying the state was not equipped to handle such a health scenario.


The alert came in the wake of 82 cases of upper respiratory track infections in humans that were reported from six districts affected by bird flu. However, it was not yet confirmed whether these were bird flu-related cases.

An infection in the upper respiratory track is one of the symptoms of the disease in humans. “If human beings are affected it would be a bigger disaster than floods or blasts,” health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told mediapersons here today. He said that the health department could only handle 100 to 200 cases if the disease were to be transmitted to humans.

“Central teams under the regional director for health and family welfare are monitoring the situation in areas where the outbreak of the disease has been reported,” the minister said.

“The people are taking the matter very lightly without realising the consequences. There are allegations of chicken and ducks being kept away from culling.”
The minister urged the people to co-operate with veterinary officials as a precaution.Sarma said culling operations were on in full swing with over three lakh poultry lined up for the purpose within the next few days. He said the figures were likely to go up after the outbreak in Dibrugarh and Chirang yesterday. Barpeta, Kamrup (rural), Kamrup (metro) and Nalbari have already been affected by the flu.
Culling operations will begin in Dibrugarh town tomorrow morning, two days after a case of avian flu was detected there.
The focal point in Dibrugarh town from where the bird flu case was detected as positive is ward number 6 under Dibrugarh Municipal Board. The 3km radius would cover the entire township, including Dibrugarh University and its adjoining areas.

The positive case was detected after poultry retailer Biswajeet Das from the Chiring Chapori area reported to the local veterinary department officials that around 120 of his birds had died all of a sudden on November 6.(Snip)
To compound matters, shortage of trained veterinary staff slowed down the culling of birds at Khanapara in the capital city (Snip)

“We have engaged five culling teams overnight after bird flu was confirmed at Khanapara. The areas within 3km of the epicentre has been declared as alert zone or high risk zone where culling will be carried out,” a government official supervising the operations said. The alert zone in the city comprises Jawahar Nagar, Beltola, Six Mile, Rukminigaon, Dispur, Ganeshguri, parts of Hatigaon and Panjabari, among others.

The official admitted that their efforts had been impeded by shortage of trained staff for culling in the city as most of them were engaged in similar operations in other affected areas of the state.