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2006 H5N1 outbreak in India

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2006 H5N1 outbreak in India
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An outbreak of the H5N1 virus in India in 2006 seriously disrupted the functioning of the poultry industry in Navapur, negatively affecting the people living in the area as the poultry industry was their main source of income at the time. Soon after a large number of birds were reported dead in the village of Navapur, in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, the government intervened, first confirming the presence of the bird flu and then destroying large numbers of birds to control the spread of the virus. Residents felt the government overreacted, believing the government had wrongly attributed the reason for the bird deaths; had unnecessarily disrupted their main source of income; and did not compensate them properly for the government's destruction of the birds. Residents also believed that the media caused unnecessary panic over the incident. The government denied any over-reaction to the flu outbreak and stated that they had enough Tamiflu vaccine to protect the Indian population.


Initial reaction

The first reports of bird flu in India came from the village of Navapur in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra on 19 February 2006. Villagers reported a large number of bird deaths in the village. Maharashtra State Animal Husbandry Ministry authorities rushed to the spot. Lab analysis proved that the poultry was indeed affected with the H5N1 virus. nawapur

Government response

Soon after the presence of the virus was confirmed culling operations began. 253000 birds and 587000 eggs were destroyed within 5 days. Villagers who were exhibiting flu-like symptoms were quarantined and kept under observation. Blood samples from 150 persons were sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune for analysis. Movement of people into the area was strictly regulated and passenger trains were instructed not to halt at Nawapur. Governments of States which border Maharashtra banned the import of poultry from the latter. Some other State Governments like those of Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir also introduced similar restrictions. The Government of India asked pharmaceutical companies like Cipla to manufacture anti-flu medication. The Government also started stockpiling Tamiflu. The Indian Army was set on alert to aid in evacuation operations and drug-distribution measures.

Grievances of locals

The poultry industry is the main source of income for the people of Nawapur who claimed the Government is overreacting. According to them, the cause of the bird deaths was in fact the seasonal Ranikhet disease and not bird-flu. They alleged that the compensation guaranteed to them by the Government after culling had not been handed to them. They also said the media created an unnecessary clamour over the incident.

Economic impact

Prices of chicken products across India plummeted resulting in a steep rise in the prices of mutton and fish. The poultry industry is expected to have lost hundreds of millions of rupees because of this. Airlines including Air India, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and Kingfisher Airlines took chicken off their in-flight menus.

Official response

Both the state and central governments denied any overreaction. The centre said it had enough supplies of Tamiflu and that there was no cause for worry.


2006 H5N1 outbreak in India Wikipedia

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