CHENNAI: New year, new problems. With the outbreak of a fresh bird flu episode in the neighbouring State of Kerala, the State government on Tuesday tightened vigil to prevent any poultry transport through its checkposts. All the vehicles coming from the two infected Kerala districts — Alappuzha and Kottayam — would be disinfected at the State border, said officials.
The government has also requested the railways to not transport any feed ingredients for birds and other poultry products from Kerala by trains. “As many as 26 check posts, have been opened in Tenkasi, Kanniyakumari, Theni, Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiri districts, to monitor vehicle movement from Kerala, round the clock,” A Gnanasekaran, Director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, said.
He added, directions were issued to all stakeholders, including district-level authorities, the Egg Coordination Committee, the Broiler Coordination Committee, and poultry farmers, to take up the required bio-infection control measures. The influenza is caused by a virus in birds and it can be transmitted to human beings.
The sudden spread among ducks in Kerala has put Tamil Nadu on high alert. The protocol issued by the government also restricts entry of visitors from other States into the poultry farms. Workers at the farms have also been asked to cover their faces using masks while feeding the chicks.
‘We have enough ingredients to produce feed within Tamil Nadu’
“Following the instructions, we have restricted entry of visitors. We have sufficient cereals and other ingredients to produce feed for birds within the State. Hence, precautionary measures will not have any impact immediately,” said Dr CS Selvakumar, member of the Broiler Coordination Committee.
VS Balasubramaniam, Assistant General Manager of the National Egg Coordination Committee, Namakkal Zone, said, “The issue is being monitored closely and maximum precautions are being taken to prevent its spread.” The move has, however, caused worry among those in the business, as it could shatter hopes of the industry’s revival, which has been limping back to normalcy since the lockdown relaxations kicked in.
According to official data, Tamil Nadu produces about 3.9 crore eggs per day, of which a whopping 35 per cent is transported to Kerala. About 35 lakh eggs are also supplied to the government for the midday meal scheme. The per capita egg production (eggs produced per person for a year) in Tamil Nadu is 100, while it stands at 80, in the national level. Similarly, the per day production of broiler chicken in the State stands at 12 lakh.
In the wake of bird flu outbreak in Kerala, the Animal Husbandry Department has started taking preventive steps on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border in Coimbatore and other places. Speaking to TNIE, Joint Director of District Animal Husbandry Department R Perumalsamy said that they have asked the forest department in Coimbatore to monitor migratory birds at waterbodies.
“The presence of the H5N8 subtype of the Influenza A virus was reported in Kerala. Since it is being spread through migratory birds, we have issued an alert,” he said. In Chinnar, fumigation works began at the check post on Tuesday morning. Animal Husbandry (Tirupur) Joint Director Dr A Parivendan said, “We are aiming to check the spread of Avian flu. As per protocol, poultry products and birds from Kerala are banned.”