The residents of Karassery panchayat in Kozhikode district of Kerala spent a few tense hours on Tuesday after dozens of bats were found dead in the Kaarimoola neighbourhood. The locals promptly informed the officials of the animal husbandry department who arrived to take stock of the situation.
“Our officials have collected samples from the dead bats for testing in the lab. The bats themselves have been cremated and incinerated. The test results will take a few days time,” said DR KV Uma, district animal husbandry officer.
The mass death of the bats in Karassery comes in the wake of two strains of bird flu being detected next door in two poultry farms in Kozhikode district. The H5 and H7 strains of the flu under Type-A Influenza were confirmed at the farms through tests after mass death of chickens in poultry farms.
On Monday, officials as part of rapid response teams began the process of culling as many as 12000 birds, mainly chicken, love birds and turkey. The culling of the birds were ordered in a one-km radius of the poultry farms in Vengeri and Kodiyathoor where the outbreak was reported. To prevent the spread of the flu, district animal husbandry officers ordered the closure of chicken farms as well as shops selling chicken and eggs within a ten-km radius of the outbreak epicentre. The owners would be compensated for their losses, the government has promised.
The unease among the residents of Karassery is also due to the Nipah virus outbreak that was reported in Kozhikode in 2018. The source of the viral infection was found to be fruit bats in the area. The outbreak claimed the lives of 18 people in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
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