In the first case of bird flu in Punjab, samples from two ducks found dead in an industrial unit’s reservoir at Rajpura in Patiala district last week have tested positive for H5N8 avian influenza (commonly known as bird flu). The samples were sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal, which confirmed that the deaths were due to bird flu.
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After the deaths were reported to the state’s animal husbandry department, it first sent the samples to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RDDL) in Jalandhar for testing. “The Jalandhar lab found something suspicious and it was sent for further testing to the national testing lab in Bhopal. The lab report has now confirmed that the ducks died because of bird flu virus,” said Dr Harjinderjit Singh Sandha, director of animal husbandry, Punjab. “It is for the first time the state has recorded bird flu deaths.”
An alert has been sounded by the department in Rajpura and surveillance stepped up across the state. Culling was ordered and 33 ducks from the same reservoir were killed and buried on Wednesday.
H5N8 avian influenza is a disease of birds, which affects several species of domestic poultry, including chickens and ducks. Avian deaths have been already reported in Delhi and other parts of the country following which the central government has formed a committee to monitor the situation.
As per the central government guidelines, Sandha said, they had culled the ducks at the reservoir to prevent the further spread of the virus. “As per the guidelines, we have to kill all the birds within a one-kilometre radius. We began Wednesday killing and burying around 33 ducks,” Sandha said. “There is no poultry farm near the industrial unit.”
Sandha said areas falling within the 10-km radius of the infected area were under “active surveillance”. “Our officials today visited these areas and found no major poultry farms.”
For now, the department has not decided to issue any advisories for the public to avoid eating chicken. “We do not see spread of the disease immediately in other areas. But we are not taking any chances. The department has issued general advisories to the ground staff across the state to increase the vigil,” another official of the department told The Indian Express.