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Indian Health Minister: Bird Flu Outbreak Under Control


Indian officials say the country's first outbreak of bird flu is under control, as government teams continued to cull chickens in the western state of Maharastra. Officials are also going door-to-door to check for any people showing signs of contracting the potentially fatal form of the H5N1 virus.

Officials say they have sent thousands of protective suits for use by workers, some of who are in their second day of culling tens of thousands of birds in the western state of Maharastra. This is where India's first outbreak of the H5N1 virus was confirmed Saturday in poultry.

Authorities have also sent to the state some 11,000 doses of Tamiflu, the anti-viral drug used to treat ordinary cases of flu.

Speaking before parliament Monday, Health Minister Ambamani Ramadoss says there is no reason to panic.

"As of this date, there is no confirmed case of human avian influenza," he said. "I'd like to assure the house the situation is being closely monitored and is under control."

Health workers have fanned out to some 50 poultry farms in the area of Navapur, roughly 400 kilometers northeast of the state capital of Bombay. Officials estimate half a million birds will be slaughtered, then buried or burned to stop the spread of the avian flu.

Health care workers are going to each house in the area to check for people showing any flu-like symptoms. So far, at least two people have been quarantined, as a safety measure.

State authorities had earlier reported that a 27 year-old poultry worker had died after showing bird-flu like symptoms, but the exact cause of his death has not yet been determined.

India's neighbor Nepal, meanwhile, has banned the import of poultry and related products from India, as a precautionary measure.

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