Amid Bird Flu scare, States step up efforts to contain spread

Four lakh poultry birds have died in Haryana's Panchkula district alone in the last 10 days. The state, however, is yet to confirm the viral outbreak.


Across India, lakhs of birds have been found dead in the last 10 days. At least four states – Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Rajasthan- have confirmed bird flu, sounding an alert as the authorities step up efforts to contain the spread.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are also vigilant after 12,000 ducks died in the last few days in neighbouring Kerala. In the northern part of the country, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana, close to Himachal Pradesh, have also started investigating samples amid scare. Bird flu or avian flu viruses can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.

In Kerala, around 36,000 birds are likely to be culled after the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza was confirmed in parts of Alappuzha and Kottayam; the culling has already started in the two districts. Control rooms and Quick Response Teams have also been set up in Alappuzha and Kottayam. “The decision on compensation to farmers is to be finalised after discussions with the Chief Minister,” Forest Minister K Raju said earlier this week.

Four lakh poultry birds have died in Haryana’s Panchkula district alone in the last 10 days. The state, however, is yet to confirm the viral outbreak. A probe is on, authorities have said.

Himachal Pradesh became the fourth state on Tuesday after Kerala, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to confirm the avian flu. Around 2,700 migratory birds, most of them bar-headed geese, were found dead.

Slaughter, sale, purchase and export of any poultry birds, fish of any breed and their related products, including eggs, meat, chicken, have been banned in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

In Madhya Pradesh, sudden death of more than 300 crows triggered a scare. Samples tested at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) confirmed the presence of the H5N8, the avian influenza causing virus, in some samples from Indore and Mandsaur.

A control room has been established in Indore and action is being taken into the sudden deaths of crows by rapid response teams. The health department, which is already battling against the COVID-19 virus in Indore, has now begun door-to-door medical check-up of people living in areas where the crows have been found dead.

In Rajasthan, birds in Jhalwar, Kota and Baran were found to be infected, state animal husbandry minister Lal Chand Kataria was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. Till Tuesday, 625 birds had died in 16 districts.

Maharashtra, which shares border with Madhya Pradesh, has not yet reported any such cases.

National parks and wildlife sanctuaries have been asked to take precautions.

All this comes at a time when India is fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic and is preparing for vaccine rollout after two vaccine candidates – Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute-Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covaxin – were cleared for emergency use by the drug regulator DCGI earlier this week. – NDTV


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