With the confirmation of bird flu or avian influenza cases in Uttar Pradesh, the animal husbandry department is putting in place several precautionary measures regarding the possible arrival of migratory birds and vigilance at poultry farms, while urging people to avoid going to zoos and bird sanctuaries and coming in contact with any kind of bird.
The authorities in the state have been asked to ensure that any unnatural death of a bird is reported, followed by proper testing for the influenza.
On Saturday night, two red jungle-fowls found dead at the Kanpur Zoological Park earlier this week tested positive for the influenza. The park was soon sealed and closed for visitors for the next 15 days.
According to Kanpur Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) R P Mishra, the process of culling birds in a one-km area of the Kanpur Zoological Park has started. So far around 15 jungle fowls and three black chickens (Kadaknath murge) have been killed in the zoo, while at least 41 poultry birds have been killed outside the zoo.
Principal Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Bhuvnesh Kumar said bird flu “isn’t at a large scale in the state as just two birds in Kanpur have been tested positive”, adding that was why all the steps taken by us are “mainly preventive and surveillance-based.”
Our basic effort is to stop the spread into humans at any cost. The flu is zoonotic (disease that passes from an animal to a human) and that is why we make around 1 km containment zone wherever a bird is found positive, and go for culling of the birds in that zone. In case of commercial birds we also provide compensation in case culling is the only option. But even after that we cannot control the movement of wild birds. Another challenge for us are birds part of backyard poultry in villages as those birds are in direct contact with human and other birds. We have to spread awareness among people,” said Kumar.
He added that people are suggested avoid visiting zoos and bird sanctuaries as catching migratory birds, taking that samples or culling them is not possible. Earlier, in a letter issued to all the Divisional Commissioners and District Magistrates, the Animal Husbandry department meanwhile has directed that that strict surveillance of migratory birds coming near water bodies and of the poultry farms should be ensure along with proper sero-surveillance practices continued.
“In case there is unnatural death of birds, then while passing on the information immediately, the body should be sent to High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal, and their nasal, cloacal and tracheal swab to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) lab in Bareilly. Keeping strict vigil at all water bodies and poultry farms, the district authorities should do regular inspection. There should be proper cleanliness and security at poultry farms and poultry markets. The poultry birds and products coming via road and trains from flu affected areas should be subjected to extra surveillance and caution. The bordering districts are to ensure that no infected or dead poultry birds can enter the state,” the letter read.
It added that the transportation of poultry birds and eggs should not be in open vehicles and all poultry markets should be closed at least one day a week for cleanliness and sanitization. There should also be bio security arrangements made at all bird sanctuaries, water bodies and parks where migratory birds can come.
Along with these the Rapid Response Teams have been formed in the state for daily report on inspection of water bodies, bird sanctuaries, poultry farms, bird markets and poultry processing units. The districts also have to provide daily report to the control room established at the animal husbandry department.
The authorities have also been asked to run awareness campaigns for safe consumption of poultry meat. The districts have been asked to ensure availability of PPE kits, face masks and required medicines. In addition to all these points, the authorities are also to ensure there is no panic or misinformation among the people because of rumours.
Amid expectation that thousands of migratory birds will visit the rivers in Prayagraj with the start of Magh Mela next week, special care is to be taken to prevent bird flu and preventing visitors from feeding the birds, officials said. District-level task force meetings are already taking place to plan the awareness campaigns.
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