Unusual death of birds has been reported from different areas of Delhi, sending the localities into panic amid an avian influenza, or bird flu, scare in the country. The Centre said that unusual mortality of 16 birds has been reported in Uttam Nagar’s DDA park Hastsal Village, while Delhi’s Development Department officials reported the death of 20 crows in the Mayur Vihar Phase 3 area, taking the cumulative tally to 36.

In a statement, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying said that the animal husbandry department of Delhi was taking precautionary measures in view of the deaths and have sent samples for testing. The results are awaited, it said.

Officials from the animal husbandry unit of the Development Department on Friday also collected samples from Mayur Vihar Phase 3 region and sent them to a designated laboratory in Punjab’s Jalandhar for testing, reported Mint.

“Around 20 crows have died in the area over the last few days,” Dr Rakesh Singh from the department said. “We are following the standard operating procedure. It is yet to be ascertained whether the cause of death is bird flu infection.”

On Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said there was no case of bird flu in the national Capital yet. Sisodia had instructed officials to keep a close watch on poultry birds coming in from neighbouring states to prevent any cases of infection. He had also asked the officials to maintain a strict vigil on birds at major bird sites, including zoos, water bodies, poultry markets and other potential hotspots.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh’s Balod district also reported the death of four more crows, according to the Hindustan Times, citing officials. The officials said the villagers burnt one of the dead crows but the rest were sent for testing for the avian influenza.

“...a crow was found dead on Wednesday in a paddy field in Pondi village...four crows...were found in a pond,” Balod collector Janmajay Mahobe said. “However, we have no confirmation of bird flu till now. Our officials rushed to spot and sent the samples of dead crows for further examination.”

Agriculture production commissioner M Geetha said the Union Territory administration was collecting and testing samples from seven government poultry farms of Chhattisgarh.

So far, six states – Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat – have confirmed the outbreak of the avian influenza, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying said. “It is learnt that culling operations have been completed in both the affected districts of Kerala,” it said. “The disinfection process is underway.”

The ministry said that unaffected states have also been told to keep a vigil on unusual deaths among birds to contain the spread of the infection.

The Centre had on Wednesday identified 12 epicentres of the outbreak from different districts of Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. In a statement, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying had said that it has issued advisories to these states to contain the spread of the infection. The Madhya Pradesh government had on Wednesday banned the supply of poultry from Kerala and a few other states in the south amid the bird flu scare.

According to the Centre’s advisory, samples of migratory, dead birds should be collected with utmost caution and under scientific supervision. It added that surveillance should be extended to all wetlands and habitats that host migratory birds and areas with any possibility of interaction of migratory and poultry birds.

The affected states have also been asked to send weekly reports to the ministry. As a precautionary measure, Jammu and Kashmir has sounded an alert and started collecting samples from migratory birds. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu too have stepped up surveillance and framed guidelines. The latter has banned influx of chicken and eggs from Kerala in view of the outbreak, and sounded alerts in the bordering areas.