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Avian flu "no threat" here

R. Ilangovan



IN SECURE ENVIRONS: Rows of chicken in a poultry form near Namakkal. — Photo: P. Goutham

NAMAKKAL: At a time when fears of avian flu are on the rise, poultry farmers in Namakkal remain unruffled, claiming the birds in the region have a toned-up immune system.

The landing of the Asian version of the dreaded H5N1 on the European continent, for the first time since 1997, does not scare the farmers who insist their birds are not susceptible to the danger. According to them, the hot and humid climate throughout the year — with maximum temperature touching 42 degrees Celsius and the minimum not dropping below 35 degrees Celsius — is inimical to the dreaded virus. Also, the zone is not close to any major water body, where migratory birds, suspected carriers of the virus, roost.

Only chickens are being reared and culled here. "We never opt for allied activities such as pig-rearing, which permit the mutation of the virus," says P. Selvaraj, Zonal Chairman of the National Egg Coordination Committee.

The farmers have adopted "bio-security measures", including regular spraying of anti-viral solution and administration of vaccines. Small farms in Namakkal, for commercial reasons, have been decimated. Hence, there is no danger of a flu spread. A decade ago, the industry had 7,000 small and big farms. Now it has just 700. Only big and strong players with pucca infrastructure are in the field.

Says R. Nallathambi, president, Tamil Nadu Poultry Farmers Association: "Namakkal is proud of its healthy birds thanks to the vigil by the Veterinary College and Research Institute here."

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