After the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal confirmed H5N1 (avian influenza or bird flu) from samples of dead birds found at a farm in Telangana, Maharashtra has been put on high alert and active surveillance is under way.
Dr G P Rane, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry, told The Indian Express that instructions had been issued to officials at 34 districts and so far there were no samples of birds who died in large numbers at any poultry farm in Maharashtra. At all our regional disease investigation laboratories, samples are regularly collected to rule out any disease in birds. “Till date, we have not received any sample of unusual mortality at the Regional Disease Investigation laboratory in Pune,” Rane said.
NIHSAD, Bhopal, had received bodies of 10 birds from the Srinivas Reddy Poultry Farm, Rangareddy, Telangana, on April 12. The next day, the government of Telangana was requested to send a report on the unusual mortality in birds at the farm and to take necessary measures as per the action plan on avian influenza. On the same day, the NIHSAD informed that five samples were found positive for H5N1 virus and that the other samples were being examined.
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In accordance with the Action Plan on Preparedness, Control and Containment of Avian Influenza, 2015 edition, neighbouring states have been put on alert. In Telanagana, there are nearly 1,45,315 birds in the one km radius of the epicentre, of which 41,040 died till April 14. The state has already started control and containment operations. As many as 51,888 birds were culled till April 15.
Rane pointed out that active surveillance and transport restrictions were in place. Adjoining Telangana is the Vidarbha region and districts of Yavatmal, Akola and Washim. There isn’t much poultry activity here unlike in Pune, Mumbai and Ahmednagar, where there are commercial-level broiler farms. However, we are not taking a risk and ensuring that any sample of a dead bird is checked.
Dr Prasanna Pedgaonkar, Deputy General Manager, Venkateshwara Hatcheries, said, “There is no need to panic as by and large the poultry industry in Maharashtra will not be affected. We have spoken to government authorities and they have sounded the need to be on high alert.”