Himachal Pradesh on Monday reported cases of bird flu after Rajasthan, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with officials confirming that migratory birds found dead at Pong Dam Lake in Kangra district have tested positive for the dreaded avian influenza. Around 1,800 migratory birds, most of them bar-headed geese, have been found dead in the Pong Dam Lake sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh.
The district administration in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra has banned the sale and purchase of chicken, eggs, and other poultry items owing to the bird flu scare. Exercising his powers under Sections 34 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the official said that shops selling these products would also remain closed in these four subdivisions. Prajapati also banned the movement of locals and tourists within a kilometre radius of Pong Dam. In Himachal’s Pong Dam Lake wildlife sanctuary, wildlife staff first reported the sudden death of four bar-headed geese and one common teal in the Fatehpur area last Monday.
“Slaughtering, sale, purchase, and export of any poultry, birds, fish of any breed, and their related products, including eggs, meat, chicken, etc is strictly prohibited in Fatehpur, Dehra, Jawali and Indora subdivisions of the district”, an order issued by Kangra DM Rakesh Prajapati read.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Archana Sharma said that the laboratory at the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly detected avian influenza in the samples of dead birds, while citing the information conveyed by the Centre.
Bird Flu cases in Rajasthan, Kerala & Madhya Pradesh
Recently, a bird flu alert has been sounded in Rajasthan after crows were found dead in half a dozen districts. Bird flu cases were also confirmed in dead crows in Indore in Madhya Pradesh. In Rajasthan, deaths of more than 170 new birds were reported from some districts on Monday, taking the total fatalities in recent days to over 425. ‘Bird flu has been confirmed only in Jhalawar (district). Report of other deaths is yet to come,’ according to the state animal husbandry department.
As some parts of Kerala too reported the influenza outbreak, authorities have ordered culling of ducks, hens and other domestic birds within one km radius of the affected areas in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts. Officials said some 40,000 birds will have to be culled to check the spread of the H5N8 virus. A farm in Kerala’s Kottayam has recently seen deaths of around 1,500 ducks due to bird flu.
Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.