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Centre allays transmission fears, states try to limit bird flu spread

Delhi, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra on Monday confirmed bird flu cases, days after Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh reported avian deaths due to the disease.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh, Mumbai, New Delhi |
Updated: January 12, 2021 1:52:12 am
A vendor carries chickens at a market in Prayagraj on Monday. (PTI)

The bird flu has spread to 10 states with authorities initiating control measures and the government assuring that there are no scientific reports of the virus’ transmission to humans after hundreds of birds were found dead in several areas across the country on Monday.

Delhi, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra on Monday confirmed bird flu cases, days after Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh reported avian deaths due to the disease.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all state governments to ensure a constant vigil near places such as water bodies, zoos and poultry farms, expressing hope that “we will be able to overcome this challenge soon” through proper coordination between Forest, Health and Animal Husbandry Departments.

While states announced several steps, including mass culling of poultry, ban on live birds markets and restriction on chicken and related food materials, the Centre asked them not to close mandis or impede the sales of poultry products. The Centre also directed states to maintain adequate stock of PPE kits and accessories required for culling operations.

Animal Husbandry and Dairying Minister Giriraj Singh said there have been no scientific reports on transmission of bird flu to humans and consumers should not be scared.

Even as the first confirmed cases of bird flu were reported from Delhi, officials from the forest department in neighbouring Gurgaon said there has been a surge in the number of calls received regarding carcasses of birds over the last one week.

Officials said the calls were initially regarding dead crows, but several calls are now about dead pigeons.

The Delhi government imposed a ban on the sale of processed and packaged chicken brought from outside the city, as samples of ducks from Sanjay Lake tested positive for bird flu. “But there is no need to panic about bird flu. It is a common influenza,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

In Maharashtra, three crows in Mumbai and 15 pond egrets and two parrots in Thane were confirmed to have died due to bird flu, officials said on Monday. The state has recorded 1,205 avian deaths since Friday with authorities planning culling of poultry within 1 km radius of an infected area in Parbhani district on Tuesday. “Cases found in Mumbai and Thane region are among crows and not poultry. There are no poultry units within Mumbai and it is not an infected area. All the cases found are in backyard poultry… It is completely safe to eat eggs and poultry meat, if the eggs and poultry meat are cooked for 30 minutes at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius,” said Anoop Kumar, Principal Secretary at the Maharashtra Animal Husbandry department.

The Himachal Pradesh government banned supply of all poultry products from other states for a week. “The ban has been imposed to ensure that infection does not come from other states through poultry products,” Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials said 122 more migratory birds of various species were found dead in Pong Dam Lake wildlife sanctuary Monday, taking the toll among such waterbirds to 4,357.

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