Maharashtra and Delhi on Monday confirmed the outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu in the states, NDTV reported. With this, nine states – including Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat – have been affected by the spread of avian influenza.
Delhi’s Animal Husbandry Department said that the flu was confirmed after testing eight samples from dead crows and ducks, according to ANI. “All the samples tested positive for avian flu,” the department said.
Out of the eight samples, four were found from a park in Mayur Vihar Phase 3, three from Sanjay Lake and one from Dwarka, Dr Rakesh Singh from the animal husbandry unit of the Delhi Development Department said, according to PTI.
“A drive to cull ducks has begun at the Sanjay Lake, where 10 ducks were found dead recently,” Singh added. “A few samples were also sent to a lab in Jalandhar. Their results are awaited.”
The Delhi Development Authority had already closed Hauz Khas Park, Dwarka Sector 9 Park, Hastsal Park and Sanjay Lake as a precautionary measure. Hauz Khas Park in south Delhi has a huge water body and attracts a large crowd every day. However, no death of birds has been reported there. The poultry market in Ghazipur has also been shut down temporarily.
In Maharashtra, District Collector Deepak Madhukar Muglikar told NDTV that Parbhani, situated about 500 km from the state capital, Mumbai, was the epicentre of the outbreak. “About 800 poultry birds – all hens – died in the last two days,” he said. “Their samples were given for testing. And now it is confirmed that the reason is bird flu.”
Muglikar said that the confirmation came from Murumba village of the district. “There are about eight poultry farms and 8,000 birds,” he said. “We have given orders of culling those poultry birds.”
“We have created a prohibitory zone in 10 km radius of the area where the birds died,” Muglikar added, according to PTI. “No birds will be transported from there to any other place. Our medical team is stationed there and it is examining all people of the village.”
State Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting to review the bird flu situation in the state, according to ANI. Meanwhile, the 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.
In the national Capital, the New Delhi Municipal Council formed a rapid response team to carry out field inspections for examining various birds in its areas, reported PTI. “In the wake of avian influenza [bird flu], a rapid response team has been formed to carry out the field inspection to examine various birds in NDMC area especially chickens, ducks and other migratory birds,” Ramesh Kumar from NDMC’s Health Office said. “The inspection report has been sought on weekly basis.”
Areas that come under the NDMC are occupied by Union ministers, MPs and top industrialists. Parliament House, offices of all the ministries, the Supreme Court and residence of Supreme Court judges, senior bureaucrats and senior military officers also fall under the NDMC areas.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia urged the public not to panic, saying that the Delhi government was taking all precautionary measures. “It has been decided to impose a restriction on the supply of processed chicken from outside Delhi,” he said.
On Saturday, the Delhi government had banned the import of live birds to the national Capital as well as shut down the Ghazipur poultry market for 10 days. Three recreational parks – Hauz Khas Park, Dwarka Sector 9 Park and Hastsal Park – were also closed.
Meanwhile, Union Animal Husbandry & Dairying Minister Giriraj Singh said that it was important not to spread rumours about the flu. “It’s [avian influenza] been seen in India since 2006,” he said. “There’s no risk to humans if it’s cooked properly before eating.” The minister added that he was writing to the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the closure of the Ghazipur poultry market.
Chhattisgarh, where samples of dead birds have been sent for testing, has also stepped up vigil to contain the spread in India. On Saturday, the Centre had confirmed that Uttar Pradesh was also hit by the outbreak.
The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying has urged unaffected states to be on alert for unusual deaths among birds to contain the spread of the infection. In a statement, the ministry had said that it has issued advisories to these states to contain the spread of the infection.
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.