Fear of bird flu on the wane

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, February 28,

The fear of avian flu that has gripped the public is diminishing as is evident in the increase in consumption of chicken and eggs.

"The consumption of chicken and eggs has increased by some 15 to 20 per cent in the Valley and by almost 40 per cent in Chitwan," said the programme director of Livestock Service Directorate, Dr Dhan Raj Rataalaa.

In Chitwan, the consumption of chicken and eggs had waned by 50 per cent after reported human deaths due to bird flu in various South Asian countries.

"I was really scared about eating poultry products after I heard about people dying of bird flu," said Pavitra Suwal, a resident of Anamnagar. "But I am no longer worried after I heard experts say it was safe to eat well cooked meat." Dr Rataalaa said people need not worry as the import of poultry was still banned and surveillance is on.

"We receive reports from 40 districts on a daily basis and there is nothing to be anxious about."

Since the flu was reported in Lhasa, surveillance has been tightened around the Tatopani area, he said.

Shanker Aryal from New Baneshwor, however, says he would rather have a vegetarian meal than take chances. "Life is too precious for ifs, ands or buts."

The director general of Department of Veterinary Services, Dr Shubha Narayan Mahato, and Dr Mahendra Bahadur Bista, director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, have gone to Bangkok to attend a high level meeting on the disease. "It is expected the meet will develop strategic guidelines and details on technical and financial support," said Dr Rataalaa.