January 20, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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Bird flu: Centre deploys teams in Kerala, Haryana; MP bans chicken import from southern states – Times of India

4 min read

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday deployed multi-disciplinary teams in bird flu-affected areas of Kerala and Haryana, while Madhya Pradesh, where crows have died due to the influenza, banned the entry of chicken consignments from southern states for 10 days as a precautionary measure.
Thousands of chickens and ducks were culled in two districts of Kerala to contain the spread of the H5N8 avian influenza strain. Rajasthan reported that bird flu was detected in Swai Madhopur, after Jhalawar, Kota, Baran and Jaipur districts.
Punjab was the latest state after Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to put its officials on alert.
Aauthorities in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh started random sampling of poultry around a wetland, where 3,000 migratory birds have died since December 28.
Around 500 dead poultry birds were also found dumped by the side of a highway in the hill state’s Solan district and officials said that samples have been collected from there too.
Bird flu outbreak has been reported at 12 epicentres in Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, and advisories have been issued to contain further spread of the infection in poultry ducks, crows and migratory birds, the Union fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry said.
The current bird flu outbreak is reported barely a few months after India in September 30, 2020, declared the country free from the disease. India notified the first outbreak of avian influenza in 2006.
The ministry said it has set up a “control room” in Delhi to keep a watch on the situation and monitor measures being taken as per the guidelines of a national action plan for avian influenza.
The Union health ministry said that the teams have been deployed in Haryana’s Panchkula district and in Alappuzha and Kottayam districts of Kerala.
Reports of avian influenza have been received from poultry samples from Panchkula district, the ministry said in a statement, a day after samples were collected from farms by the Jalandhar-based Regional Disease Diagnosis Laboratory (RDDL) in the wake of over four lakh poultry birds dying in the past 10 days.
Two multi-disciplinary teams comprising experts from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Institute of Virology, PGIMER Chandigarh, RML Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi, have been deployed to the affected districts on January 4 to assist the health departments of the states in implementing the health ministry’s avian influenza containment plan.
Over 69,000 birds, including ducks and chickens, have been culled in the two Kerala districts to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu, state animal husbandry minister K Raju said, adding that 19 teams were engaged in the exercise.
There is no history of the H5N8 virus being transmitted to humans, he said, but cautioned that the virus may mutate. “So we have to remain alert,” the minister said.
He said the ban on sale of bird meat and eggs in these regions will continue, and farmers will be compensated accordingly. Culling was done in and around an one-km radius of the affected areas in the two districts.
In Madhya Pradesh, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the state will not allow entry to chicken consignments from Kerala and other southern states for the next 10 days.
“Bird flu symptoms were found in chickens in Kerala and other southern states. Therefore, we have decided that no chicken from these states will be allowed to enter Madhya Pradesh for the next 10 days,” Chouhan said, without specifying any other state.
“Bird flu symptoms were found in crows and in some other other avian species, but during a random inspection of poultries, the disease was not found in any chicken,” he said.
The influenza is the cause of mass deaths of crows in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, Mandsaur and Agar Malwa districts, officials said.
Chouhan said he has directed all district collectors in the state to talk to poultry farm owners for deciding guidelines for the prevention of bird flu.
Chicken trade with a “few southern states will remain banned for a limited period” as a precautionary measure, a public relations department official said.
Officials in Himachal Pradesh have collected 120 samples of live poultry birds from around the Pong wetland in Kangra district for tests.
The poultry samples, collected randomly, were sent following the death of over 3,000 migratory water birds in and around the wetland after December 28, they added.
So far, no unusual death among poultry has occurred but if the samples test positive, all poultry birds in backyard farms within one kilometre of the lake’s periphery will have to be culled and commercial farms in the area would be disinfected, the officials said.
Though no case of bird flu has been reported in Punjab, authorities have asked officials to be alert and keep tabs on any unusual deaths of migratory and poultry birds in the state.
Punjab Animal Husbandry director Harbinder Singh Kahlon said an advisory has been issued for “surveillance of commercial poultry farms and backyard poultry farms to find any unusual mortality in birds”.
In case any “unusual mortality” in poultry birds is found, samples will be sent to the RDDL in Jalandhar, to ascertain the cause, the officials said.
Similarly, the forests and wildlife preservation department has also issued an advisory for maintaining extra vigil around lakes and wetlands in the state, they said.
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had issued similar alerts and advisories.
Four birds were found dead at the Sukhna Lake and its surrounding areas in Chandigarh, officials said.
The forest and wildlife department said it is checking whether they are any more casualties of the birds. No case of bird flu has been reported in Chandigarh so far, an official said.

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