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Bird Flu outbreak in several states, Centre steps up efforts to contain the spread

Kerala Minister for Forest, Animal husbandry and Dairy development K Raju on Tuesday confirmed that that about 12,000 ducks had died and around 40,000 birds will be culled in the region where bird flu has been reported.

As India prepares to roll out the world’s biggest immunisation programme to vaccinate its people from the Wuhan coronavirus, another pernicious infection is beginning to take root in several states of the country. As per an ANI report, on Wednesday, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy confirmed the outbreak of Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, reported from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.

The ministry stated that the samples from the aforementioned states which were tested by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research -National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (ICAR-NIHSAD) have come back positive for bird flu.

The decision to carry out tests was taken after several states reported the sudden death of birds in large numbers. The central government has also launched a drive to identify those with suspected flu symptoms in the affected areas.

“The measures suggested to the affected states to contain the disease and prevent further spread as per the Action Plan on Avian Influenza include strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses, timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for the prevention of disease spread from affected birds to poultry and human,” the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said in a statement.

The central government has advised the respective state governments to take necessary measures to identify the epicentres of the infection and prevent its spread. The ministry has also set up a control room in New Delhi to keep a tab on the situation and to take stock on a daily basis of preventive and control measures undertaken by state authorities.

Besides, the Centre has also advised the state government to coordinate with the forest department to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds and to report immediately to take necessary measures.

Below are the states which have reported bird flu cases and have imposed prohibitory orders in parts to control the spread:-

Rajasthan

According to the statement, bird flu is reported in crows in Baran, Kota and Jhalawar district. The alarm was sounded on December 27 when more than 100 birds were found dead in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district. State Animal Husbandry Minister Lalchand Kataria said that the crow carcasses recovered last month were sent to Bhopal which tested positive for Avian influenza.

Madhya Pradesh

Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh also reported the flu in crows in Mandsaur, Indore and Malwa districts. Yesterday, Madhya Pradesh Animal Husbandry Minister Prem Singh Patel said that an alert has been sounded to control the deaths of crows in the state after nearly 400 crows were found dead in 10 districts.

Himachal Pradesh

In Himachal Pradesh, the bird flu is reported in migratory birds in Kangra district. The flu has so far killed 2,403 migratory birds, the state government said on Tuesday. Due to this, a 10-km alert zone was declared where no sale of eggs are allowed and poultry markets were closed, said the State Animal Husbandry Department.

Kerala

In Kerala, the flu is reported in poultry-duck in Kottayam and Allapuzha districts. Kerala Minister for Forest, Animal husbandry and Dairy development K Raju on Tuesday confirmed that that about 12,000 ducks had died and around 40,000 birds will be culled in the region where bird flu has been reported.

The state government had said bird flu is declared as the state-specific disaster in Kerala and a high alert has been issued after an outbreak of bird flu was confirmed in certain parts of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat on high-alert amid bird flu scare

Other states such as Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana have also reported a disproportionate number of bird deaths. In Haryana, hundreds of poultry birds have died in Raipur Rani. Though authorities have claimed that no avian flu has been found among birds, they are awaiting lab reports from Jalandhar.

Gujarat has also witnessed deaths of 53 birds in the Batwa area of Manavdar tehsil in the Junagarh district on 3 January. The carcasses of the birds are sent to postmortem and the wildlife officials in Junagadh are on high-alert to detect any possible spread of the flu in the region. Punjab, too, amid scare of flu in Haryana, has sounded an alarm in the wetlands of Hari-ke-Pattan (Tarn Taran), Keshopur (Gurdaspur), Nangal, Roop Nagar and others.

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