New bird flu strain hits Delhi, Maharashtra; 7 other states
Jan 11: Delhi and Maharashtra have confirmed bird flu amid nationwide efforts to contain the spread. Seven other states - Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat - had earlier confirmed Avian Influenza as the cause of the recent bird deaths. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture has summoned senior officials of the Ministry of Animal Husbandry to examine the availability of animal vaccines in the country; the meeting will take place at 3 pm today. Haryana has reported the highest number of bird deaths; more than 4 lakh birds have died in the last few weeks. Jammu and Kashmir and Chhattisgarh are also on alert.
Here are 10 developments in this big story: Delhi has banned import of live birds and the biggest wholesale poultry market in Ghazipur has been temporarily shut down. "Rapid response teams have been formed in every district to contain the spread. Veterinary doctors are also constantly on the lookout. The focus is particularly on the poultry markets in Sanjay Lake, Bhalswa Lake, and Hauz Khas," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.
In Maharashtra, Parbhani - about 500 km from state capital Mumbai - is the epicenter. "About 800 poultry birds - all hens - died in the last two days. Their samples were given for testing. And now it is confirmed that the reason is bird flu," Deepak Madhukar Munglikar, District Collector, told NDTV. "It has been confirmed in Murumba village. There are about eight poultry farms and 8,000 birds. We have given orders of culling those poultry birds," he added. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting this evening to review the bird flu situation.
In Kerala, tens of thousands of birds were culled last week after 12,000 ducks died and the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza was confirmed in parts of Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. Sale of poultry and related products has been regulated only in the affected parts.
In Haryana, culling of over 1.6 lakh birds at five poultry farms began in Panchkula district on Saturday, news agency PTI reported. More than four lakh birds were found dead in the state in the last two-three weeks.
Himachal Pradesh reported deaths of over 2,000 birds, most of them bar-headed geese, at Pong Dam sanctuary. 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 Kangra district, marked as an epicentre.
Across the country, chief secretaries of states and union territories have been asked by the government to monitor the situation and keep effective communication open with health officials, particularly with regards to avoiding the spread of the disease to humans. They have also been asked to track water bodies, bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, and all their surrounding areas.
States have also been told to ensure availability of PPE kits and accessories to be used to cull birds and dispose of carcases and bird waste. They have also been asked to tackle rumours that influence poultry product consumers. They are expected to increase awareness about their safety, especially after the products are boiled or cooked.
Last week, the government clarified that the disease is "zoonotic" but infection in humans has not been reported in India, according to the government.
India reported the first outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006. Bird flu viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century, the centre said in a statement.
In India, the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into the country during winter months from September-October to February- March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out, according to the government. -NDTV