TODAY -

Editorial of the week

The virus has landed
Courtesy: The Sangai Express 26th July, 2007



Manipur is now the second State in India where the virus that causes bird flu or avian influenza has landed. In 2006, the first case of bird flu in the country was reported from Navapur in Maharashtra and it took the whole machinery of the Government of Maharashtra plus the efforts of the Centre to tackle the outbreak of the bird flu and the same act is ready to be enacted in Manipur in the coming days too.

Fortunately, the virus strand that has been identified in Manipur is the H5 type and not the H5NI that was detected in Maharashtra. As the experts put it, we are given to understand that while the H5 virus strand is equally lethal for fowls and ducks but it doesn't spread that easily to humans. For the moment, this is the only comfort that we have.

While we do acknowledge the efforts and work put in by the officials of the State Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department in dealing with the matter, we are still worried over the fact that it took such a long time to officially confirm it was indeed bird flu. As we had reported earlier, the first batch of samples were sent to the High Security Animal Diseases Laboratory at Bhopal on July 11 and the second on July 16. Some more samples were again sent later.

Samples were also sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune. As we had expressed our concern earlier in this column, the long time it took to officially confirm the status of the disease is a bit unsettling for the fact stands that timely action is the best remedy in such a situation.

On the other hand we do understand that minute study of the samples is necessary to come out with an official statement on an issue as critical and sensitive as this.

We would like to believe that the battle against the virus has just started and there is still a long way to go before we can say that everything is fine and it is for this very reason, why the people also need to extend their co-operation to the Government in every possible manner.

The State machineries too need to shed its earlier reputation of being a sloppy bunch of work force and do better this time, for it is a matter of public health.

It was also somewhat disconcerting that the State machinery did immediately get down to work after the report was received in the afternoon of July 25.

The affected area, in this case the 5 km radius marked out by the authority concerned should have been sealed immediately and movement of poultry products checked and prohibited.

That this was not done immediately but later in the evening is there for all to see and it is a pity that the Government seems to have overlooked the fact that in cases like this time is the most important factor.

Having said this we would also like to mention that when the story of the unnatural deaths of a large number of chickens was reported in The Sangai Express and some other dailies, there were snide remarks that we were pressing the alarm button unnecessarily.

Even one discussion held during the news broadcast by the All India Radio in its 7.30 am slot appeared to take a dig at some of the papers for publishing the reports.

To put the matter straight, we would like to lay down that the reports were published as per our policy of keeping the people informed and an issue which could take on a very dangerous proportion should be reported to the public.



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