In order to resume exports of profitable chicken meat and eggs, India is considering asking the Organisation Internationale d’épizootie (OIE) (also known as the World Organization of Animal Health) to gain a avian influenza (bird flu) free status. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said bird flu had not reappeared anywhere in the country till date following several rounds of surveillance and said that the nation must “capitalize” on this “window of opportunity.”
Speaking at a conference called Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Preparedness in India, Pawar said the nation had “developed a prototype vaccine for bird flu” Attended by Ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Pawar promised to “share our experience for control and containment.” Apparently, the basis for this claim is that the Government had culled several thousands of birds, cleaned-up infected areas, disinfected sites, and that there is no recurrence of the epidemic in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
Animal Husbandry Secretary P.M.A. Hakeem told the press that the Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal had developed a vaccine for bird flu but several kinds of trials were going on before commercial use of the vaccine could start.
She said the OIE would simply circulate the disease-free report on India to other countries and put the information on its website.
At the end of the conference, the Ministers signed a Delhi Declaration committing to develop and strengthen animal and human disease surveillance and response systems for early detection and prompt containment of avian influenza and other emerging zoometric diseases. All participating nations were worried about the need for high bio-safety standards, better laboratories, maintaining stocks of essential drugs, vaccines and equipment.