India has not given permission for use of any vaccine against bird flu nor other countries like the US, UK and the European Union have approved any such vaccine, the government informed Parliament on Friday. “As per World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), vaccination is not considered the solution for the control of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) if eradication is the desired result,” Union Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Without the application of monitoring systems, strict biosecurity and depopulation in the face of infection, there is a possibility that these viruses could become endemic in vaccinated poultry populations, he said. Long-term circulation of the virus in a vaccinated population may result in both antigenic and genetic changes in the virus and this has been reported to have occurred in several countries, the Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said.
The minister further explained that with the long-term use of vaccination either the disease becomes endemic and therefore widespread, or the infection in affected animals gets too difficult to detect. “The Government of India has not permitted use of any vaccine against bird flu in the country. Further, it is gathered from the Central Drugs Standards Control Organization (CDSCO) that no such vaccine is approved in countries like the USA, UK, EU etc. to prevent/cure bird flu in birds,” he noted.
In a separate reply, the minister said bird flu among commercially reared and wild birds have been confirmed from 14 states and union territories namely Kerala, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir. So far, the Centre has provided Rs 103.56 crore assistance to these 14 states/union territories for control of bird flu, he added.