Bird flu: NIV team in Delhi to assess cases, advisories issued to Katraj, state zoos

The suspected avian influenza deaths at Delhi’s Deer Park had Pune’s team of virologists joining the surveillance effort.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: October 26, 2016 4:46 pm
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Even as a team of virologists from Pune are in Delhi to collect the cloacal swabs of the dead birds suspected with avian influenza, surveillance measures are being stepped up at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park in Katraj and other zoos across Maharashtra. Animal husbandry department officials in Pune have also ruled out any unusual mortality in birds. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that a team from the National Institute of Virology was in Delhi. The suspected avian influenza deaths at Delhi’s Deer Park had Pune’s team of virologists joining the surveillance effort.

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“There is no human bird flu case recorded in the country despite several outbreaks among birds,” said NIV officials, adding, “However, it is too early to arrive at any finding.” According to NIV officials, the team will collect the cloacal swabs from the dead birds and even the droppings from the water bodies at the Deer Park in Delhi for further investigations.

At the disease investigation section of the animal husbandry department in Pune, Joint Commissioner Dr SB Tatwarthy ruled out any unusual mortality in birds here. “We receive various samples from different districts every month and so far, there have been no unusual bird deaths,” said Tatwarthy. Advisories have been issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry to zoo administrations. At Pune’s Rajiv Gandhi zoological park, director Rajkumar Jadhav said that utmost precautions are being taken.

“There are 17 species of birds. Only three species — peacock, barn owl and long-billed vulture — are spotted and here too, the workers use sanitisers before entering the cages, wear gloves and then provide food. We have instructed our staff to stay alert if they detect any abnormal symptoms or if they find birds not eating food etc,” Jadhav said. Several migratory birds visit this huge water body at the zoo spread across 30 acres. “So far, there have been no unusual symptoms,” Jadhav said.