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Bird flu comes as double whammy in six states

Bird flu comes as double whammy in six states

As India grapples with the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic, six states have been struck with bird flu which has come as a double whammy, forcing the Centre to issue a high alert in these states in the wake of the sudden death of birds in large numbers.

Bird flu has been reported among wild geese in Himachal Pradesh, ducks in Kerala and crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Haryana, around one lakh poultry birds have died mysteriously in the last few days while in Gujarat over 50 birds were found dead in the forest.

The central government has also launched a drive to identify those with suspected flu symptoms in those areas. Amid the scare, the state governments, as a protocol, have imposed prohibitory orders in parts where bird flu deaths are being recorded. The sale of poultry and eggs has also been banned in these areas.

Kerala’s Minister for Forest, Animal husbandry and Dairy development K Raju had stated that as many as 12,000 ducks had died and about 40,000 birds will be culled in the region where bird flu has been reported.

The district administrations of Alappuzha and Kottayam have begun the culling of poultry. The state government said that bird flu is declared as a state-specific disaster in Kerala and a high alert has been issued after an outbreak of bird flu.

The authorities have also has imposed a ban on the sale and use of poultry meat and other related products in the regions where bird flu deaths have been detected.

In Madhya Pradesh – State Animal Husbandry Minister Prem Singh Patel has said an alert has been sounded to control the deaths of crows in the state. Between December 23 and January 3, 142 crows died in Indore, 100 in Mandsaur, 112 in Agar Malwa and 13 crows died in Khargone districts, Patel added. The testing of dead crow samples at the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases has revealed the presence of the H5N8, the avian influenza causing virus, in some samples from Indore and Mandsaur. The Mandsaur authorities in the state had ordered the shops selling chicken and eggs to remain closed for 15 days after bird flu was detected in crows.

In Gujarat, nearly 53 dead birds were found in the Batwa area of Junagarh district on 3 January. A team of forest officials reached the spot and sent the carcasses for post-mortem. In Himachal Pradesh, over 1,900 migratory birds have died so far of avian flu in the Kangra district's Pong Dam area in Himachal. Bird flu virus H5N1 has killed 2,403 migratory birds in the state so far, the state government said.

The Kangra District Magistrate issued order, completely prohibiting sale/purchase/export of any poultry/birds, fish and eggs in the area. Besides halting all tourist activities in the region, the next nine kilometres of the Pong Dam sanctuary has also been put under surveillance. Wildlife officials have said that over 95% of birds found dead are bar-headed geese that migrate from Siberia and Mongolia.

In Rajasthan, bird flu has been spreading in some parts. Initially, on 27 December, an alarm was sounded when 100 crows were found dead in Rajasthan's Jhalawar district and another 150 in some other districts. As per reports, the cause behind the rapid spread of bird flu has been attributed to the H5N1 strain of the virus.

In Haryana, Since 5 December, hundreds of poultry birds have died at Raipur Rani. The authorities have confirmed that so far no avian flu symptoms have been found among the birds. However, the officials are awaiting the lab reports from Jalandhar. Other states such as UP, Punjab and Karnataka have directed there officials to be on full alert as the bird flu in the neigbouring states which may spread to their area..