Reported new India bird flu outbreak could hurt exports

Featured - November 5th, 2012

A recent bird flu outbreak in a government facility in southern India raised concerns on the repercussions to human health and to the country’s poultry industry if the virus spreads, a year after the country declared itself free of the disease.

Samples of chicken and turkey blood and droppings collected at Bangalore’s Central Poultry Development last week revealed they contained the H5N1 virus, which mostly affects birds but can be passed on to other animals as well as humans. The disease can damage multiple internal organs and lead to death.

Arvinda Ramachandra Jannu, a senior official in the animal husbandry department in Karnataka, claimed that tests on other samples collected near the facility turned up no evidence that the disease had spread.

“The state government culled all the affected birds,” Mr. Jannu told Wall Street Journal. “There is no need to panic.”

State officials also said the latest outbreak had not affected any humans. The local government said they had already disposed of at least 33,000 birds, mostly chickens, and 12,000 eggs.

Avian flu could seriously damage India’s poultry industry, which exports $46 million – $55 million worth of eggs to the Middle East and Africa, according to industry estimates.