Ranchi-ites can now gorge on their favourite chicken preparations without worrying about the bird flu fear doing the rounds in the city. The Department of Animal Husbandry on Friday cleared the suspense saying that chicken was safe for consumption here.
The department had sent at least 36 blood samples of domestic birds from across Jharkhand for H5N1 tests to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal where none of the samples tested positive.
“It is safe to consume chicken in Jharkhand. However, one should prefer curry preparations over tandoor items as a precautionary measure for the time being,” said Chitranjan Kumar, Director with Animal Husbandry Department.
Kumar said that the samples sent for test were collected from chicken shops and poultries in different localities of Ranchi and other important cities after a few crows died of suspected avian influenza.
“Only one crow had died of avian influenza in Morhabadi locality. We collected samples of domestic birds from shops within the periphery of Morhabadi and none of them tested H5N1 positive,” he said.
The Bird Flu scare had a marginal effect on the sale of chicken in Ranchi. However, the prices fell from Rs.140 per kilogram to Rs.130 per kilogram in some parts of the city in the past couple of weeks. The rumours had also affected the sale of chicken items at restaurants and eateries. A few smalltime eateries at educational institutions in and around Ranchi had stopped selling chicken items after Bird Flu rumours started doing the rounds.
Manoj Kumar, a veterinarian at the Animal Husbandry Department said that Bird Flu was unlikely to make a return to Jharkhand once winter retreats. If at all a bird is infected, the virus will not survive once the chicken is cooked at a temperature above 100 degrees Celsius, he added.
By now, only crows have died in Jharkhand of avian influenza and the death of crows is not considered a valid reason for sounding an alert, officials said. “Yes, crows have died of the virus in Jharkhand but we do not sound alerts when a wild bird dies. At least one domestic bird has to test H5N1 positive for us to sound an alert in the state,” said Kumar.
Meanwhile, rumours were rife that some domestic birds died of avian flu in Godda district. However, the department is yet to find any concrete evidence indicating deaths due to H5N1 influenza in the district.