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February 23, 2006

India investigates claims of bird flu cover-up

Via SciDev.net: India investigates claims of bird flu cover-up.

India is investigating media reports that a major poultry producer suppressed evidence of the nation's first bird flu outbreak by paying local people to bury dead chickens.

Upma Chawdhry, a senior agriculture ministry official, told reporters in Delhi yesterday (21 February) that chicken deaths were first observed in Navapur in Marahashtra state as early as 27 January, but the government only found out on 8 February through a local newspaper report.

With commercial poultry farms in the area under scrutiny, the Maharashtra state government yesterday charged Pune-based poultry producer Venkateshwara Hatcheries with concealing chicken deaths.

The claims, if true, would mean that India lost 12 days that could have been used to contain the outbreak and raise awareness of the threat. In addition, anyone burying dead birds risked being infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus.

sonal follow-up: Yesterday, while checking my stats, I noticed that someone in India had googled their way to this site, and one of the terms they were looking for was "Venkateshwara Hatcheries." Well, if they're searching again today, here's another hit.

More importantly, charges of cover-up in India and bureaucratic bungling in Indonesia need quick investigation. If true, the malefactors should be dealt with very promptly. As H5N1 spreads, governments and corporations alike need to know that honesty is not just the best policy, but the only policy that will save their lives.

Posted by dymaxion at February 23, 2006 05:08 PM

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