There are no laboratory confirmed human cases of avian influenza reported in the country till date, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Lok Sabha on Friday. Providing details of the strains detected so far and the steps taken to strengthen the process of lab tests for meat products in the country, Choubey saidthe strains detected so far are H5N1, H5N8 and H5.
The National Institute of High Security Animal Disease (NIHSAD), Bhopal is conducting laboratory testing for bird flu in meat products in the country, Choubey said in a written reply. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has a network of 190 primary food testing laboratories under Section 43(1) of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and 18 referral laboratories under Section 43(2) of the Act. Besides these, there are 18 state Food Testing Laboratories continuing under Section 98 of the FSS Act 2006, he said.
Out of these, almost 165 food laboratories are capable of testing meat and meat products. Two referral laboratories – National Research Centre on Meat, Hyderabad and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi are dedicated for the purpose of testing meat and fish, he said.
Department under Assistance to States for Control of Animal Disease (ASCAD) supplements the efforts of states and Union Territories for prevention, control and containment of animal diseases including bird flu by providing financial assistance based on the action plan and requirement of the states, he said.
In response to another question, Choubey said no vaccine has been developed in India or procured by the government to protect people from bird flu/avian influenza. Zoonotic diseases for which vaccine has been widely used and procured by the government are Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis and Kyasanur Forest Disease, he said.
He said 25 notified primary food testing laboratories and some Referral Laboratories – CALF – National Dairy Development Board, Gujarat, CIFT, Kochi, NRC, Meat , Hyderabad, National Food Testing Lab, Kolkata as well as national reference laboratory — Edward Food Research and Analysis Centre, Kolkata have facilities for testing of antibiotic residues.