After the Delhi zoo and the Deer Park were shut down following cases of bird flu, the Delhi government Friday said there was no immediate threat to human beings as the strain of virus found in some of the dead birds — H5N8 — is “not known to have infected human beings”.
Development Minister Gopal Rai Friday said samples from three dead birds had confirmed the presence of the H5N8 virus.
“We were apprehensive about the presence of the H5N1 virus, which is easily contracted by human beings from birds. But test reports from the central laboratory in Bhopal confirmed the presence of only the H5N8 strain, which is known to have infected hundreds of birds in US, Japan, Netherlands, China, South Korea and Vietnam. The strain is not known to have infected human beings through touch or consumption,” said Rai.
However, he cautioned that a clearer picture would emerge only after the remaining test results were revealed. “We can be sure that there is no threat only after we receive all the test results,” Rai said.
On the suspected bird flu deaths so far, the minister said, “Six more ducks were found dead in the district park in Hauz Khas, but no more deaths have been reported from the zoo. We are deploying a larger team for monitoring the situation in Hauz Khas and all precautions are being taken. No deaths have been reported from chicken mandis in Delhi… we have no reports of infections in poultry so far.
The Centre had expedited the process of testing the samples by allowing them to be sent directly to the central laboratory in Bhopal instead of first sending them to the regional centre in Jalandhar, said Rai.
He said his department was closely monitoring chicken mandis, especially the Ghazipur mandi, the biggest in Asia.
The minister, who conducted an inspection of the mandi with his team Friday, said, “… We have made it mandatory for trucks transporting birds to the Ghazipur mandi to carry medical clearances.”