Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Rajasthan confirmed bird flu to be the cause of death of hundreds of birds even as several other states, including Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, sounded alerts on the disease.
The death of migratory birds — 2,300 till Monday — in the Pong Dam reservoir area in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh was due to avian influenza, chief conservator of forests, Dharamshala, Upasana Patiyal, confirmed on Monday. Kerala’s minister for forests, wildlife and animal husbandry K Raju said bird flu was reported in Kottayam and Alappuzha and that 12,000 ducks were killed by the disease.
Kerala’s wildlife and animal husbandry minister K Raju said 12,000 ducks were killed by the disease. Authorities have been instructed to cull all birds within a one kilometre radius of the areas in which it was reported. This would include all types of poultry and ornamental birds. Raju said 36,000 birds will have to be culled to avoid further spread of the disease.
This is the third outbreak of bird flu in Alappuzha over the past seven years. “As per the estimate of the animal husbandry department, 34,602 birds (mainly ducks) need to be culled in Kuttanad and it will be completed in three days. These include 5,975 birds in Nedumudi, 11,250 birds in Thakazhi, 4,627 birds in Pallippad and 12,750 birds in Karuvatta,” collector A Alexander said.
Also, the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal has confirmed that the death of crows in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar was due to bird flu. The toll, mostly crows, reached 522 on Monday. Director, animal husbandry, Virendra Singh, said, “The highest number of crow deaths, 36, was reported in Jaipur. Till January 4, 391 crows have died across the state.”
Other than Jaipur, two new cases were reported in Jhalawar. Deaths were reported in Kota (12), Baran (12) and Bikaner (11). In Dausa district, six deaths were recorded — two crows and four herons. Also, the death of one heron and four crows was reported in Jodhpur. “Migratory birds are the suspected to be source of this virus,” a senior animal husbandry official said. A senior health department official said, “Bird flu may transmit from birds to humans. We have directed our officials to keep a close eye on poultry farms and other areas where birds are inhabited.”
Fears of bird flu after the death of 53 birds at Bantva in Gujarat’s Junagadh, majority of them lapwings, were allayed by forest department officials who said postmortems have revealed that the birds may have died of poisoning.
Meanwhile, MP too issued an alert over an H5N8 avian influenza outbreak, which has killed 160 crows and at least two herons in Indore in the past one week. Animal husbandry department officials in every district have been asked to be on the alert and follow SOPs to check the spread of the virus. So far, there is no evidence of transmission to poultry. In the wake of the bird deaths in Himachal, the animal husbandry department in Punjab’s Pathankot district has begun taking preventive measures to prevent the spread of any possible infection among poultry birds from migratory birds. Mystery shrouds deaths of chicken as the cause remains inconclusive.