It's good news for those who love their chicken. The World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) based at France, has officially declared India as bird flu-free.
This message was intimated to the Indian Department of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries under the agriculture ministry , on November 8.
The organization is an intergovernmental body with 167 countries as members. The good news was also posted on its website for the international acceptance of India's status.
International protocol has it that the avian influenza-free country status is conferred once a nation reports no outbreak of bird flu for a period of three months . This is from the time it completes disinfection and clean up of the previous site of outbreak.
India had reported a fresh outbreak of bird flu in a small poultry farm located at Chingmeirong in Manipur's east district on July 25, 2007. This was followed by disinfection and containment according to international standards. By August 10, 3.36 lakh birds had been culled, 28,000 eggs destroyed and 131 metric tones of poultry feed burnt.
Clinical, virological and serological surveillance for the deadly H5N1 virus was carried out in a 10-km radius of the affected farm. Blood samples of the dead birds from other parts of the country were routinely checked by the HSADL, Bhopal, and NIV, Pune.
Authorities were quoted: "On July 27, we confirmed a fresh outbreak of avian influenza. By August 8, we had completed culling and disinfection operations. On November 8, OIE informed us of our bird flu-free status".
The ministry has, in turn, relayed this information to all Indian envoys in countries such as UAE, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Oman. These nations had imposed a ban on poultry products from India following the last outbreak.
The Indian envoys, especially in Middle East countries like UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have been asked to urge respective governments to lift the ban.
"Farms in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu export poultry feed, meat and eggs to Middle East countries. So the ban hurt the industry there. While now, we expect Oman to lift the ban immediately after OIE's notification, some countries may like to get a clearance from their technical committees," an official reported.
The value of India's poultry export between 2005-06 was 167.58 crore. Industry sources put down a loss of nearly Rs 32 lakh per day from the ban. Egg exports depicted a steep decline of 50% from the Namakkal region . This area alone accounts for 90% of the total egg exports from the country.
In February 2006, as bird flu hit Maharashtra and Gujarat, more than 12 countries slapped a ban on Indian poultry products. This had resulted in a loss of Rs 10,500 crore.