Bird flu virus spreading in Kerala may not affect humans: Minister

DuckThiruvananthapuram: Forest Minister K. Raju told the Assembly on Thursday that humans were not likely to be inflected by the bird flu spreading in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts.

Replying to a submission made by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, the Minister said that the influenza strain identified was of type A (H5N8) which does not affect humans.

Mr. Raju announced that compensation would be paid to poultry farmers who had to cull their flock.  So far 1500 ducks had been culled in the State. The compensation specified was Rs. 200 for birds old than two months and Rs. 100 for younger birds. Compensation would also be paid for eggs destroyed at Rs. 5 per egg.

He said that movement of ducks had been banned for 10 days in affected areas. Task forces were functioning in the areas to deal with the situation. The culled ducks were being burned considering the water-logged conditions in Kuttanad.

He said that facilities existing in Kerala for preliminary screening for bird flu virus. Samples are then sent to laboratories in Bangalore and Bhopal for confirmation.

Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan said that the government would seriously examine the possibility of setting up facilities for detecting bird flu virus in the State.

Mr. Chennithala said that the government had failed to take timely precautions. The flue was spreading to Kottayam district. An expert committee should be set up to study the reasons for the spread of the disease.

Mr. Thomas Chandy said that it was disgrace that Kerala did not have facilities to confirm the diseases, but had to send samples to Bhopal.